Thursday, Apr 26, 2018
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Many Ohioans eager to flee, according to new estimates

The latest census figures show that moving trucks remain a fixture in Ohio - at least for people heading out of the state.

Between April, 2000, and July, 2001, nearly 50,000 more people moved out than came in, according to population estimates released today by the Census Bureau.

That ranks Ohio as the fourth-worst state for attracting outsiders.

Dr. Roger Selya, a University of Cincinnati geography professor, offers a blunt assessment why: “The major trend in the United States is for people to move to the South or West, and we're neither south nor west.”

Still, Ohio was able to gain population slightly because its residents gave birth about 11/2 times more than they died - a lower ratio than most states, but enough to post a modest 0.2 percent population gain.

The figures are part of the Census Bureau's first population estimation of the 21st century.

In the nine years between every official headcount, the bureau estimates the changes in populations based on births, deaths, and migration patterns.

The release was made as the Census Bureau continues to sort through all the information it received from the 2000 census.

In the coming months, it plans to release another batch of data showing more details of the fabric of American society.

But the data of the day is on the bureau's bread-and-butter calculation: population.

Ohio's growth rate in the 15 months after the 2000 census ranks the state 43rd, ahead of only Wyoming, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Iowa, West Virginia, and North Dakota. The last four states lost residents.

Dr. Dan Lichter, who heads Ohio State University's Initiative in Population Research, said it's not surprising. The trend during the past couple of decades has been people spreading out from the traditional “smokestack” states, such as New York, Illinois, and Ohio.

They usually head south and west, and that bodes true in the latest estimates. The five fastest-growing states were Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, and Georgia.

Often, Dr. Lichter said, for states like Ohio, it's not so much a lot of people moving out; it's too few moving in to replace them.

Researchers attribute the migration patterns to some common complaints.

For some movers, it's the weather - particularly older residents looking to escape Ohio's winters. For others, it's the perception of other areas as more progressive or interesting.

But often, it's more practical - jobs.

Dr. Sam Aryeetey-Attoh of the University of Toledo said many of Ohio's good-paying factory jobs have disappeared, to be replaced by lower-paying service-sector jobs. The good-paying jobs of the future, in “knowledge-based” industries, have taken root in other states, particularly in the West.

“Ohio has actually done quite well recently,” said Dr. Aryeetey-Attoh, who heads UT's geography and planning department. “However, Ohio still doesn't have a competitive advantage in those knowledge-based jobs.”

And as Ohio loses people, it can't seem to make up the difference.

Dr. Selya said one of the reasons is that Ohio doesn't give as much money to colleges as other states, so much more of the tuition costs are passed onto students. That makes it more expensive for residents to get a college degree and prices out many out-of-state students who could be lured to Ohio.

“It used to be that the University of Cincinnati attracted a lot of kids from the East Coast, but not anymore,” he said.

“And if you don't bring people in here and get them hooked in the education system - unless it's through marriage or job transfer, why would they come?”

Despite the slow growth, Ohio remained the seventh most-populated state, behind California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, and Pennsylvania.

Creeping closer to Ohio at No. 8 is Michigan, which grew by 0.5 percent and, by last count, was fewer than 10,000 people away from topping 10 million residents. Michigan remained relatively constant, also taking eighth place in births and deaths. But it suffered from a net loss of movers, finishing eighth worst in the nation.

Even with Michigan gaining on Ohio's 11.4 million population, Ohio doesn't appear to have to worry about its northern neighbor overtaking it, at least for 54 years. If the latest trend continues, the big threat could be from No. 10 Georgia, which grew at 2.4 percent. At that rate, the state - now with 8.4 million people - would overtake Ohio in 21 years.

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