Monroe County had the eighth-largest population increase among Michigan's 83 counties from July, 2003, to July, 2004, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates released yesterday.
Meanwhile, Paulding County had the largest percentage population drop of Ohio's 88 counties, the Census Bureau said. However, county officials dispute the estimate and say the bureau undercounted the population in the 2000 census as well.
In Michigan, the southeast corner of the state accounted for seven of the top 10 counties in numerical population growth, led by Macomb (up 7,098 people), Oakland (5,026), and Livingston (4,436).
Monroe gained 1,658 residents, or 1.1 percent, to 152,552 people, the Census Bureau said. County officials predict the number will grow significantly.
The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments set the county's present population at 152,915 and, based on new building permits, projects the population will reach 157,000 by year's end, said Royce Maniko, the county's planner.
Driving the growth is a marked increase in manufacturing jobs, particularly in the village of Dundee and Monroe Township, and transplants from Wayne and Lucas counties seeking a more reasonable cost of living and more space, Mr. Maniko said.
The state's population increased by 30,256 to 10,112,620, the Census Bureau estimated, an increase of 0.3 percent. Still, about 12,000 more people moved out than moved in.
The Census Bureau estimated that Paulding County lost 234 people from 2003 to 2004, a 1.2 percent decline, and that the county lost 748 people, or 3.7 percent of its residents, since 2000. The total population last July 1 was 19,486, the Census Bureau said.
Tony Burkley, chairman of the Paulding County commissioners, estimated the population at about 23,000. He said a disproportionate number of residents received the Census Bureau's long form in 2000.
Some residents viewed that form's detailed questions as intrusive and didn't return it, Mr. Burkley said. "Therefore, we felt we were undercounted to begin with."
Tony Langham, director of Paulding County Economic Development Inc., sees evidence of growth all around.
"I've lived here all my life. You drive around this county, and there are new homes going up everywhere," Mr. Langham said. "There are homes going up where there never were homes."
Counties that disagree with the estimate can file a challenge via the Census Bureau's Web site, said Katherine Condon, a Census Bureau demographer.
It's too late, though, to correct the 2000 count, she said.
Lucas County lost 2,611 people, with an estimated July 1, 2004, population of 450,632. Wood County ranked 25th in percentage growth in the state by picking up 775 people, for a population of 123,278.
Hardin County was No. 6 in percentage growth, gaining 560 people, for a population of 32,171. Fulton County was No. 14 in percentage growth, adding 490 people during the year, for a population of 42,919.
Delaware County, north of Columbus, was No. 1 in percentage growth in the state and No. 10 in the nation, with 7,029 additional people and a population of 142,503.
Among Ohio's urban counties, Franklin County, which includes Columbus, grew by 2,383, or 0.2 percent, and Summit County, which includes Akron, grew by 572, or 0.1 percent.
The largest percentage loss was in Hamilton County, which includes Cincinnati. It fell to 814,611, a 1 percent decline. Cuyahoga County lost 10,924 people, or 0.8 percent.
Blade staff writer Mark Zaborney and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
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