March 31, 2013

Editorial: State, region losing numbers


---- — Recently released projected population figures for 2012 show the North Country gaining, thanks to nearby Jefferson County, and the state barely holding off Florida as the third-most-populous state in the nation.

California, with more than 35 million, is far in front of Texas, with 25 million. New York and Florida both total more than 19 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Actual counts are done only every decade, so yearly totals are estimates — though considered reliable.

Clinton and Essex counties have lost population over the past two years, while Franklin has gained. Changes are relatively small in each case.

Clinton has gone from 82,128 people in 2010 to 81,654 in 2012, a loss of 474, or 0.6 percent. Clinton had 259 more births than deaths, but that was more than offset by 756 more people moving out of the county than in.

Essex went from 39,372 people in 2010 to 38,961 in 2012, a loss of 411, or 1 percent. The county lost in both natural population flows (136 more people died than were born) and migration (383 more left than arrived.).

Franklin County gained 0.4 percent in population, rising from 51,597 to 51,795. That included 152 gained by births over deaths and 66 more moving in than moving out.

Jefferson County, west of here, was the state’s biggest gainer by percentage, totaling 4,033 people over the 2010 population of 116,229 – 3.5 percent.

New York City and northern suburban counties were the biggest numerical gainers.

The counties with the greatest losses percentage-wise were Schoharie County, which lost 650 from 2010’s 32,749 (2 percent), and Delaware County, dropping 713, or 1.5 percent, from 47,989. Schoharie and Delaware counties are both southwest of the Capital District. Neither has a city.

In all, 35 counties lost population between 2010 and 2012, and 27 counties gained.

The serious reason to be concerned about population, and the real reason for conducting a census, is to determine government representation. The more dense an area’s population, the more concentrated is its voice through its state and federal representatives.

Also, of course, the more populous an area, the greater the economic and social activity.

But there’s also the indisputable attraction of having an area on the move, growing. It’s simply more satisfying to know your home is not stagnant.

Unfortunately, New York state, in spite of the iconic lure of Gotham, is projected for stagnation.

The Census Bureau foresees it slipping inevitably into fourth place, and soon. By 2020, it predicts, Florida will be home to 20,140,700; by 2040, to 23,249,600. By 2040, New York will have a virtually unchanged population of 19,623,505.

If you’re looking for good news, though, Illinois and Pennsylvania, currently in fifth and sixth, are only in the 12 million-population range and unlikely to challenge anytime soon.