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Published: Thursday, 5/23/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

U.S. CENSUS BUREAU

Toledo’s population slips again

City not alone; nearly all Lucas County towns see losses

BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Toledo’s hemorrhaging of people continued last year and the bleeding was slightly more profuse.

The city lost another 1,609 people from April 1, 2011, to July 1, 2012, according to 2012 U.S. Census estimates released today.

Every community in Lucas County also lost people in 2012, except for Whitehouse and Waterville Township, and the village of Harbor View, which was unchanged. Other counties nearby were also down in 2012, including Monroe, Hillsdale, Lenawee, and Ottawa. Fulton County’s 2012 population stayed flat over 2011 while Wood County’s population increased 1 percent to 128,200 and Hancock County’s population rose 0.7 percent to 75,671.

Toledo’s 2012 population stood at 284,012, down from the 2011 estimate of 285,621.

That’s a greater drop than the last time the Census released its estimates. Toledo lost 1,587 people between the official 2010 census count of 287,208 and the 2011 estimate of 285,621. From 2010, the overall drop was 1.1 percent.

Compared to Ohio’s other big cities, Toledo lost a greater percentage of residents. The year-to-year decline was about 0.6 percent, which was more than any other large Ohio city except Youngstown.

Toledo Mayor Mike Bell would not hypothesize on the reason for Toledo’s decline again in 2012.

Instead, the mayor said he stabilized the city’s budget from a $48 million deficit upon taking office, started a rainy-day fund, and reduced crime rates.

“Since 2010, our revenues have increased where we may be close to 2007 numbers by the end of the year,” Mr. Bell said. “Regardless of the population base, we are financially stable.”

The mayor said Toledo would begin to work more aggressively on quality-of-life amenities that attract people after its finances are stronger.

“We are doing better than holding our own here,” he said. “Fifty miles up the road [in Detroit], they are trying to keep [city employees] working. In Cincinnati, they are trying to figure out if they are going to lay off police officers and firefighters and we haven’t had to do any of that and we haven’t had to hike anyone’s taxes.”

Toledo’s fall was not unique.

Cleveland’s 2012 population estimate was down 0.4 percent to 390,928; Dayton was down 0.2 percent to 141,359, and Akron was down 0.2 percent to 198,549. Canton was nearly flat at 72,683 people in 2012, which was down just 18 people compared to 2011.

Lorain decreased 0.3 percent to 63,707.

Like Toledo, Detroit continued its steady population decline. The Census said the city’s 2012 estimate was 701,475 — down another 4,726 people or 0.7 percent, compared to the previous year.

Columbus and Cincinnati bucked the trend of other nearby cities and gained population.

Columbus continued its upward trend, gaining 1.1 percent to 809,798 in 2012 — the first time the city was over 800,000.

Cincinnati’s population was also up, but just slightly to 296,550 compared to the 2011 estimate of 296,011.

Columbus spokesman Dan Williamson said the capital has been able to maintain its quality-of-life in part because of voter approval in 2009 for an income tax increase to 2.5 percent.

“What we said at the time, was if we can maintain our quality-of-life, we are going to come out of this recession stronger than when we went in,” Mr. Williamson said. “If there is one thing you can point to, it’s in 2009 when our community came together to support something that is usually pretty unpopular — a tax increase.”

Columbus is also consistently ranked a Top 10 place to live for categories of people such as young professionals and working mothers, he said.

Toledo on the other hand was among Forbes of America’s 20 Most Miserable Cities this year — again. The city finished 11th in the annual rankings, down from eighth a year ago. It was 12th two years ago. Detroit, with high rates of violent crime, high unemployment, and a major municipal financial crisis, was named the most miserable city in the United States.

Toledo officials in the past have said the estimates tend to lag actual changes.

Robert Bernstein, a spokesman for the Census Bureau, said the estimates are based on vital statistics that are collected by the bureau, including birth, death, tax, Medicare enrollment, and building permit records. The estimates are made for July 1 of each year after a decennial Census, including the year the last Census was made, which in this case was 2010.

Former Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner successfully challenged the Census Bureau’s population estimate and got the agency to put the city’s 2007 estimate at 316,851 people, which was greater than the official 2000 count of 313,782.

He initiated the challenge after the Census Bureau listed Toledo’s 2007 population estimate at 295,029, which was down 0.9 percent from the 2006 estimate of 297,806.

The challengers trying to unseat Mayor Bell this year pounced on the new Census figures as a reason to change leadership.

“This is exactly why I am running for mayor,” said Councilman Joe McNamara. “The numbers are going down because of unemployment, which was still 8.4 percent in April. We need a better handle on crime, neighborhood police stations, and we need to preserve the vibrancy of our neighborhoods and housing stocks.”

Councilman D. Michael Collins, also a mayoral candidate, said the exodus from Toledo is related to “lack of public confidence” in safety.

“We are a city today that has fewer police officers than when Mayor Bell took office,” Mr. Collins said. “We have the fewest per capita police officers of any city in the state of Ohio. Public safety cannot be ignored in terms of determining where Toledo is going.”

Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez said she would also focus on jobs and neighborhoods.

“If we don’t get a mayor who addresses these issues, our population will continue to decrease,” Ms. Lopez said. “I am the candidate and will be the mayor who generates an environment for jobs and economic development with results. I am the candidate who will create safe and strong neighborhoods.”

Mr. Bell said that crime is down 24 percent year to date and that Toledo’s unemployment rate was 13.8 percent in January, 2010, when he took office versus 8.4 percent in April.

Elsewhere in the nation, eight out of the 15 fastest-growing large U.S. cities were in Texas, according to the Census data. San Marcos, Texas, between Austin and San Antonio, had the highest rate of growth among all U.S. cities and towns with at least 50,000 people. Its population increased 4.9 percent between 2011 and 2012. New York, the nation’s largest city with 8.3 million residents in 2012, topped the top-15 list and was the only city among the top 15 outside the South or West. It added 67,058 people over the year.

Staff writer Ignazio Messina contributed to this report.

Contact Tom Troy at: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.



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