Population losses slow down in region
By David Skolnick
Though the five-county Mahoning and Shenango valleys lost population between 2016 and 2017, the number of people who left was less than that of recent years.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the population loss at 3,846 residents between 2016 and 2017 in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties in Ohio, and Mercer and Lawrence counties in Pennsylvania.
That’s a drop of 0.5 percent.
It’s considerably less than the estimated 6,384 population decline between 2015 and 2016 for the five counties, a 0.9-percent population decrease.
It’s also the lowest year-to-year population decline since 2013 to 2014 when 3,581 people left the five-county region, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
However, there hasn’t been a year since the 2010 census in which any of the five counties gained population.
Meanwhile, Ohio added 36,055 people – most notably 21,983 in Franklin County – between 2016 and 2017, and Pennsylvania added 21,310 residents.
Mahoning, the most populous of the five counties, had the smallest decline in numbers and percentage.
Mahoning County went from 230,169 people in 2016 to 229,796 last year. That loss of 373 was only a 0.2-percent drop in population.
“We’re seeing a slowdown” in population loss, said Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown. “But we have to give people a reason to live here. We need to bring more jobs into the area. Our assets are growing. It’s going to take time” to grow population.
The percentage declines from 2016 to 2017 in Trumbull, Columbiana and Lawrence counties were 0.6 percent each; Mercer County had a 0.8 percent drop.
Trumbull County lost 1,321 people from 201,701 in 2016 to 200,380 last year. It was the largest decline in raw numbers for any of the area’s five counties from 2016 to 2017.
Columbiana County saw 667 people leave, going from 103,744 in 2016 to 103,077 in 2017.
Lawrence County went from 87,631 people in 2016 to 87,069 last year – a decline of 562 residents.
Mercer County declined by 923 residents from 112,673 in 2016 to 111,750 last year.
The census bureau does an official census every 10 years; 2020 will have the next one.
During years in between, the bureau provides annual population estimates using birth and death certificate and migration data.
These estimates can sometimes have minor inaccuracies, with the bureau correcting them in following years. But rarely do the corrections amount to significant changes from the original number.
For example, the bureau’s original 2016 population figure for Mahoning County was 230,008 that was updated this year to 230,169.