Toledo had the fifth largest residential population drop last year among America's big cities, according to 2011 U.S. Census estimates.
The city lost 1,170 people between April 1, 2010, and July 1, 2011, down to 286,038 residents from 287,208. Only St. Louis, Baltimore, Cleveland, and Detroit lost more people among cities with more than 50,000 residents during that time, according to the census.
Estimates for city populations were released Thursday by the Census Bureau; estimates for counties were released in April.
While Toledo's total population loss ranked in the top five, its drop in population by percentage did not rank as high. The city lost 0.4 percent of its population, which was tied for 18th in the United States. Most of the top 20 communities in population loss by percentage were in Michigan or Ohio.
The Census Bureau estimates population using such things as birth and death records, and housing information. Toledo officials in the past have said the estimates tend to lag actual population changes. Toledo mayoral spokesman Jen Sorgenfrei said the decline in the estimated population is likely reflective of how hard the city's manufacturing base was hit during the recession. She said other sources show Toledo's economy has been recovering at a steady clip.
The Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program recently reported metro Toledo's unemployment rate dropped 4.7 percentage points from the second quarter of 2009 through the first quarter of this year.
"I don't think the census data is yet reflecting the growth we are seeing as cited by some of those other organizations," Ms. Sorgenfrei said.
She said city officials are hopeful future estimates reflect that growth.
The Toledo metro area's population as a whole shrank, according to the estimate, but the decline wasn't across the board. Several area communities had some of the biggest growth in the state, while others appeared to shed population.
Two metro area cities, Perrysburg and Bowling Green, were in the top 30 for incorporated communities in the state. Perrysburg's population grew by 140 people, from 20,632 to 20,772, according to the estimate. Bowling Green's went from 30,052 to 30,221, an increase of 169.
Bowling Green's Assistant City Administrator Lori Tretter said she was pleased to see the growth, and the city's reasonably stable economy and the presence of Bowling Green State University were likely contributors. She expected similar results in coming years.
"I think what we've seen in the past is slow steady growth, and that's what I would anticipate," she said.
Most of the cities and villages adjacent to Toledo lost population. Maumee lost 51, down to 14,227. The City of Sylvania dropped from 18,953 to 18,886. And Oregon lost 73 people, according to the estimate, down to 20,206.
Oregon city administrator Michael Beazley doubts the city actually lost population. While he wouldn't criticize the Census Bureau's methodology, he said the estimates rarely match on-the-ground reality.
"We are not going to be calling out the Oregon Police Department to search for 73 people," Mr. Beazley joked.
While Toledo and other Rust Belt cities' populations appeared to continue to contract, the trend across the country was for cities to grow, and many with rates faster than their suburbs.
In fact, for the first time in a century, most of America's largest cities are growing at a faster rate than their surrounding suburbs as young adults seeking a foothold in the weak job market shun home-buying and stay put in bustling urban centers.
Experts say driving the resurgence are young adults, who are delaying careers, marriage, and having children amid persistently high unemployment. Burdened with college debt or toiling in temporary, lower-wage positions, they are spurning home ownership in the suburbs for shorter-term, no-strings-attached apartment living, public transit, and proximity to potential jobs in larger cities.
While economists tend to believe the city boom is temporary, that is not stopping many city planning agencies and apartment developers from seeking to boost their appeal to the sizable demographic of 18 to 29-year-olds. They make up roughly 1 in 6 Americans, and some sociologists are calling them "generation rent." The planners and developers are betting on young Americans' continued interest in urban living, sensing that some longer-term changes such as decreased reliance on cars might be afoot.
The last time growth in big cities surpassed that in outlying areas occurred prior to 1920, before the rise of mass-produced automobiles spurred expansion beyond city cores.
Information from The Blade's news services was used to compile this report.
Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6086.