With a net loss of more than 800 residents, Lucas County is following Ohio's trend of losing more residents than it’s gaining, according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau annual reporting estimates.
Wood County, however — with a net increase of about 550 people — joined several central Ohio counties that bucked that trend with gains.
The estimates, released Thursday, show net declines in three-fourths of Ohio's counties.
The figures are based on 12 months of data generated through July 1, 2013.
Ohio had a net population gain of 17,777 residents over 2012, bringing the state's total population to an estimated 11.5 million residents.
Ohio's fastest-growing county, Delaware County, had a 2.09 percent increase.
The trend suggests Franklin County will surpass Cuyahoga County and become Ohio's most populated county by the 2020 census.
Lucas County lost 2,300 people who chose to live elsewhere.
Wood County had a net migration of 131 new residents, Census estimates show.
David Gedeon, Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments manager of growth strategies, said his agency has not identified a clear reason why people are leaving Lucas County.
Baby boomers and seniors tend to stay close to their northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan roots.
Some of the region's migration could be to nearby counties and communities.
“I don't think we are expecting a lot of people in Lucas County to depart from the region completely,” Mr. Gedeon said.
According to the Census estimates, Lucas County's population was at 436,393, or a 0.2 percent drop from 2012.
The population in Wood County increased 0.4 percent to 129,264.
Neil Reid, director of the Urban Affairs Center at the University of Toledo, said the estimates suggest a regional stabilization in population.
Allen, Defiance, Erie, Fulton, Henry, Ottawa, Putnam, Sandusky, Seneca, Williams, and Wyandot counties had slight or no population losses in the year-over-year analysis. With a net increase of 103 residents, Hancock County had a 0.1 percent increase in overall population.
“There is not much shifting, and this could be part of a trend,” Mr. Reid said. “This could be the light at the end of the tunnel and we might start seeing things starting to pick up in the housing market.”
The Census figures show that Monroe County had 254 more residents die than were born there, but there were 874 people who moved outside the county.
Overall, Monroe County's population fell 0.4 percent to 150,376 and Lenawee County added 102 residents to place its population at 99,188, according to the estimates.
The populations of Ohio and Michigan grew slightly from 2012 to 2013. The 11,570,808 residents in the Buckeye state was a 0.2 percent increase. Michigan's population increased 0.1 percent to 9,895,622.
Nationally, the Census data reveals that America’s cities are still growing.
There is some belief that a westward population shift has been fueled by people picking up and moving to find jobs in energy production across the oil and gas-rich areas west of the Mississippi River.
A majority of the metro areas showing growth are in or near the oil and gas-rich fields of the Great Plains and Mountain West.