The city of Springfield likely lost more than 500 residents last year, which accounts for nearly 1 percent of its population, according to recently released data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
That’s more than double the loss the city saw the previous year when less than 250 residents likely moved elsewhere, according to census estimates released today. However, city leaders believe Springfield is on the verge of growth in the coming years.
Population loss is a problem for the entire region, Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland said. The key to reversing the trend is creating more jobs, he said.
The city has had several job announcements in recent months, including EF Hutton America and Topre America’s recent purchase of the Champion City Business Park. Speedway also recently brought hundreds of white-collar jobs to Springfield, he said.
“Those are the ways we’re trying to respond, by trying to create jobs and we hope they pay off,” Copeland said.
Springfield has lost about 2.5 percent of its population since 2010, when more than 60,600 people lived here.
Last year, about 59,000 residents lived in Springfield, down from about 59,6oo in 2015.
City voters recently passed a a 5½ year income tax increase that will generate an additional $6.7 million annually. A portion of the money will be used to add more police officers and fix roads, which Copeland believes will improve safety and services.
“We’re doing what we can to create a better quality of life for people,” Copeland said.
The city’s population stayed below 60,000 for the third straight year. It’s the lowest the population has been since the 1910 census saw about 46,200 residents in Springfield – just 60 years after it was incorporated in 1850.
Clark County’s population dropped by more than 1,000 residents last year to its lowest level in more than five decades, according to data released in March.
Springfield is the 12th largest city in Ohio, followed by Kettering with about 55,600 residents.
The losses year-over-year are starting to decline compared to the previous decade, said Horton Hobbs, vice president for economic development at the Chamber of Greater Springfield.
“These things are not going to reverse overnight,” Hobbs said.
It’s increasingly more important for Springfield to attract and retain as many residents as it possibly can, Hobbs said. About 54 percent of people in Clark County leave to work elsewhere every day, he said.
“That becomes part of the solution to some of the issues — economics, household incomes, population,” he said. “When we have people living in the community they work in, they tend to be more supportive of local business, more supportive of nonprofits and have more of a contribution to the overall economics. They’re not just here doing a job and leaving.”
Urbana has lost about 3.1 percent of its population since 2010. The Champaign County seat had about 11,425 residents last year, down from nearly 11,800 at the last census.
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New Carlisle had about 5,600 residents last year. That city has lost about 2.4 percent of its population since the 2010 census when 5,785 people lived there. It’s the lowest the population has been in New Carlisle since 1970.
The United States has about 323 million residents, as of July 2016. Ohio had about 11.6 million residents last year.
Columbus is the largest city in the state with more than 860,000 residents, surpassing Indianapolis as the 14th largest city in the country. It has lots of well-paid, white collar jobs, which western Ohio neighbors are trying to bring here, Copeland said.
“Those are the hardest things for people like us and Dayton to attract,” he said. “We need to keep working at that and hope some of the things we’ve done pay off.”
The county is having success in terms of job growth, Hobbs said, but it also needs to increase housing stock to appeal to both the millennial and baby boomer generations. They’re both looking for lower maintenance housing, which isn’t always available here, he said.
The factors that play into where some chooses to live is also a complex issue, Hobbs said.
“There isn’t any one thing that can be done to reverse the trend, but I like our chances as we continue to grow meaningful jobs in our community,” he said. “I like our chances of stabilizing our population and seeing it grow again.”
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