Most local counties show small change on census

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 4, 2005

While the new census estimates show Hale growing and Sumter struggling, the other three Black Belt counties in the Times coverage area all experienced a kind of “holding pattern,” population-wise, between 2000 and 2003.

Marengo County suffered a .9 percent drop in population, from 22,539 residents to 22,341. The rate of population loss is virtually identical to that experienced by the county between 1990 and 2000, when the 2000 census showed a decline of 2.4 percent for the decade. At the current rate, Marengo will undergo a 2.25 percent drop for this ten-year period, although a strong housing market in Demopolis and surrounding areas suggest Marengo may yet turn even those small losses around.

Of the four area counties showing declines between 1990 and 2000, Greene County suffered the smallest losses, losing only 1.8 percent of its population. Through 2003 the county has lost .7 percent of its residents since 2000, from 9,974 to 9,900, a rate that over ten years would equal the exact same rate of decline, 1.8, from the previous decade.

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Perry County showed a steeper decline from 2000 to 2003 than either Marengo or Greene, dropping from 11,861 residents to 11,705, a growth rate of negative 1.3 percent. While not reason for celebration, necessarily, Perry leaders can take heart in the fact that the rate of population loss has slowed since the 2000 census. From 1990 to 2000 Perry shrunk by a full 7 percent, but if the current rate of loss continues the county will only lose 3.3 percent of its residents in the current decade, cutting the rate of decline by more than half.

Underlying all of these figures, however, is the fact that they only represent estimations on the part of the U.S. Census Bureau. Full censuses are only done every ten years, and the figures released in mid-April are believed to be based on smaller surveys the Bureau then projects across the whole county.

Shelby County was the state’s fastest growing county from 2000 to 2003, increasing its population by 14.6 percent.