2018-06-09 / Front Page

Census: we are losing people fast

A troubling trend that has challenged elected officials, community leaders, employers and educators for more than a decade is only getting worse.

U.S. Census Bureau findings recently released confirm that both Cameron and Potter counties are losing population. Furthermore, each county’s population continues to grow older.

A snapshot of the population on July 1, 2017, showed 4,592 people in Cameron County, a decline of 85 from a year earlier and a slide of almost 8 percent since the 2010 census showed a population of 5,074 measured in the 2010 census.

Potter County’s population was 16,802 as of July 2017, down from 16,885 a year earlier. It’s down 4 percent from the 2010 census figure of 17,469.

Of greater concern than the raw numbers to leaders in both counties is the out-migration of younger segments of the population, coupled with death rates surpassing birth rates. About five people die for every four babies born in each county.

Average Cameron County resident is now 50.8 years old. Median age in 2010 was 48.3. In Potter County, the median age stands at 46.7; it was 45.0 in 2010.

Just over 35 percent of Cameron County residents are 65 or older. The figure is 22 percent in Potter County. Statewide, it’s 17 percent.

Population loss has a ripple effect on the economy.

Not only do the tax base and local spending decline, the Census Bureau estimates that for every person who’s lost, a county receives $10,000 less in federal and state funds through more than 50 grant programs, including support for education, transportation, health and human services, housing, criminal justice, employment services and environmental protection.

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