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The Youngstown Vindicator Published: Thu, March 23, 2017 @ 12:05 a.m.

The 2016 population decline in the five-county Mahoning and Shenango Valleys was the largest since the 2010 census

Published: Thu, March 23, 2017 @ 12:05 a.m.

By David Skolnick

skolnick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Last year’s population decline in the five-county Mahoning and Shenango valleys region was the largest since the 2010 census.

The U.S. Census Bureau released population estimate figures Wednesday showing Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana counties in Ohio and Mercer and Lawrence counties in Pennsylvania lost 6,384 people between July 1, 2015, and July 1, 2016. That’s a 0.9 percent drop in one year.

The next largest year-to-year population decline since the census occurred was from 2014 to 2015 – when the population decreased by 5,337, a 0.7 percent decline.

“These are concerning numbers,” said Michael Hripko, Youngstown State University’s associate vice president for research.

“We need to provide good career opportunities for our residents to keep them here. Other areas are very aggressive with employment and opportunities. People are leaving because they’re finding those opportunities elsewhere. We have an aging region. We need to attract young people to stay here and come here.”

The area is focusing on growing jobs for people who complete their education here in order to keep them from relocating, he said.

“We have to continue to be creative and look for new opportunities,” Hripko said.

“We need to continue to work to attract businesses that will provide opportunities for our young people.”

The five-county region lost 28,997 residents between 2010 and 2016, a 3.8 percent loss.

“We have an older population, and as those folks pass on there aren’t enough births to overcome a net population loss,” said Youngstown Mayor John A. McNally.

“Also, as folks retire, they decide to move to warmer climates, and that takes away our population. People get tired of the winters and the cold.”

The census bureau does an official census every 10 years, with 2010 being the last one.

During years in between, it provides annual population estimates using birth and death certificates and migration data.

These estimations can sometimes have minor inaccuracies – which the census bureau corrects in following years. Rarely do the corrections amount to significant change from the original number.

There hasn’t been a year since the 2010 census in which any of the five counties gained population.

Mahoning County saw its population decline from 238,823 in 2010 to 230,008 in 2016. The loss of 8,815 is the most among the five counties in terms of raw numbers.

Because Mahoning is the most populous county among the five, the loss equals a 3.7 percent population decline. It is the second lowest – only Mercer County had a smaller drop – in percentage.

Trumbull County lost 4 percent of its population, 8,487 people, from 210,312 in 2010 to 201,825 in 2016.

Columbiana County saw a 3.9 percent population loss, 4,156 residents, from 107,841 in 2010 to 103,685 in 2016.

Mercer County had a 3.2 percent decline in population, 3,725 people, from 116,638 in 2010 to 112,913 last year.

Lawrence County had the largest percentage drop, 4.2 percent, of the five counties. Its population went from 116,638 in 2010 to 112,913 last year.

But while this area saw population drop overall, the same is not true for Ohio or Pennsylvania overall.

Since 2010, Ohio saw its population increase by 77,869 from 11,536,504 in 2010 to 11,614,373 in 2016. Pennsylvania added 81,848 people from 12,702,379 in 2010 to 12,784,227 last year.

In the 2015-16 calculations, Ohio gained 9,283 residents.

However, Pennsylvania lost 7,677 residents in that one year.

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