COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Furthering a trend during the decades-long deindustrialization of the Midwestern United States, Ohio’s northern Rust Belt cities continue to lose population. But as some cities ebb, other cities boom, and in Ohio that’s the capital city.
Columbus, central Ohio’s urban center, grew more than 15% in the past decade, according to final 2020 census data released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau. The city’s population now stands at 905,748, up 118,715 people in 10 years.
“Metro areas are even more prominent this decade as the locations of population growth amidst otherwise widespread population decline,” said Marc Perry, a senior demographer at the Census Bureau, in a press conference Thursday.
Columbus was one of just 14 cities to gain 100,000 people since 2010, and it was the only such city in the Midwest.
Few of Ohio’s major cities, however, were as fortunate in the past decade, which included a recovery from the Great Recession but also more instability in the manufacturing and natural resource industries that carried Ohio through the 20th Century and contribute to its current economy.
In fact, only Cincinnati gained population alongside Columbus. Ohio’s 10 other cities that anchor a metropolitan area – from Cleveland to Steubenville – lost residents from 2010 to 2020.
|Rank||Metro anchor city||Pop. change ’10-’20|
The Census Bureau in April announced state populations, including Ohio’s 2.3% jump to 11,799,448. The Buckeye State, however, ranked just 45th of 50 states in population growth, beating only Michigan, Connecticut, Illinois, Mississippi and West Virginia.
Counties show similar rift in growth, decline
On average across the country, counties under 50,000 people in 2010 lost people, while counties over 50,000 grew.
Fifty-five of Ohio’s 88 counties (63%) lost population over the past decade. The steepest declines were found in Appalachian Ohio, where Harrison, Monroe and Morgan counties all saw populations decrease more than 9%.
The largest increases, however, were found mostly in and around metro areas. Five of the six best performing Ohio counties were in the central part of the state: Delaware, Union, Franklin, Fairfield and Licking.
|Rank||County||Pop. change ’10-’20|
Delaware County led the state with an 18.64% population increase, adding nearly 40,000 people to reach 214,124 residents. Even Madison County, the slowest growing of Franklin County’s neighbors, added 389 people.
The population totals released Thursday, as well as detailed demographic data from the census, will be used by states to draw congressional district maps for 2022 and beyond.
More extensive data from the census will be available to the public on Census.gov by Sept. 30.
And despite conducting the census during a pandemic, officials are confident in its accuracy.
“While no census is perfect,” bureau acting director Ron Jarmin told reporters, “we are confident that today’s redistricting results meet our high data quality standards.”