The population loss for Franklin County last year is so small it’s nothing to be alarmed about. The Census Bureau reported the county lost 269 people from July 2011 to July 2012.
We don’t know how accurate the figure is. We agree with Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer. He said he is skeptical of the number, adding he doesn’t know the process in determining the population. A state demographer said the loss could be related to loss of jobs.
The county’s population in 2012 was reported to be 101,412. It has been rare when Franklin County experienced a loss of population. It may have happened for one or two years in the past. But for more than 60 years, the Census Bureau has reported an increase in population for every decade. At one time the county was growing at a rate about 1,000 a year.
It is true there has been some loss of jobs in the county. It also is true that new housing starts are down also. Another factor is that 35 to 40 percent of workers living in Franklin County commute outside the county for jobs on a workweek day. The loss of jobs in the St. Louis metro area usually is felt in Franklin County. The jobless may have moved on to another area to find work. The lingering recession also is a factor.
The metro area population has been reported to be 2,795,794. The growth in the metro area the past year has been only 0.1 percent. Overall, there wasn’t much change in the metro area population for that one-year period.
What to read in the numbers if correct? Not much. It’s a reflection of the economic times more than anything. We’re in a slow economic recovery mode. Almost every section of the metro area needs jobs. That’s also true for the state, which had only a 0.2 population growth from 2011 to 2012.
We are optimistic for the decade we are in, there will be population growth. But we don’t expect it to be major.