Toledo is continuing its trend of losing residents.
According to new census data, the city is inching closer to the dreaded quarter-million mark in population, a figure it hasn’t seen since the 1920s.
Toledo’s population was estimated at 278,508 as of last summer — a loss of 1,168 residents from the previous year, the U.S. Census Bureau reported today.
A decade earlier, in 2006, the city had a population of 297,806, so it has contracted by roughly 6.4 percent — or by 19,298 residents — since that time.
Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson said she is skeptical on the population estimate’s accuracy in light of the ongoing revitalization of buildings in the city’s downtown and other improvements and economic growth.
“We are doing everything we can do to curb the loss of population,” she said. “I think we have to do whatever we can to make the city an attractive place to live and continue the forward progress in partnership with business and labor.”
The Census Bureau conducts extensive population surveys nationwide each decade, which the government uses to determine, among other things, how to allocate federal aid.
Between those official counts, the bureau publishes population estimates such as the one released today, using birth, death, and migration trends for given areas.
Mayor Hicks-Hudson said the new census data may not necessarily reflect what is actually taking place in the city.
“First of all, this is based on an estimate. The decennial census will be more accurate and it will be doing actual counting,” she said.
While Toledo’s population declined, many suburbs recorded modest increases in residents.
Perrysburg, with a net migration of 102 people, had the greatest growth of communities near Toledo, and Sylvania, Rossford, Northwood, Whitehouse, and Waterville showed slight population gains.
The census estimate puts Ottawa Hills’ population at 4,492, about 500 residents short of being elevated to a city. The village added six people last year after shedding seven residents in 2015, and three people in both 2014 and 2013.
Village Manager Marc Thompson said Ottawa Hills still lags behind its 2010 count of 4,517. He said he doubts the village will reach the city threshold anytime soon.
“I don’t think the village status is in jeopardy,” he said.
The census data suggests 50 people moved out of Oregon to other communities and Maumee lost 61 residents.
The Toledo metro area, which includes Lucas, Fulton, Ottawa, and Wood counties, lost 358 residents in 2016 and now has a total population of 605,221.
David Gedeon, vice president of transportation for the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments, warned against putting too much stock in the numbers because the census figures are based on samples, not actual counts.
“This shouldn’t be taken too seriously. These are calculation estimates based on trends and sampling the census bureau does for the American Community Survey, which is a low count or sample survey,” he said.
Among Ohio’s largest cities, Columbus added 10,046 people and, with a population of 860,090, surpassed Indianapolis to become the United States’ 14th largest city.
The population estimates continue to look bad for Cleveland, which lost 2,003 residents to a population of 385,809. Cincinnati posted a slight gain of 146 people and now has about 298,800 residents.
New York, with 8.5 million people, won’t give up the title of the nation’s biggest any time soon, but the fastest growing city from 2015 to last year was Conroe, Texas — in the Houston metro area — which grew by 7.8 percent.
Of the 15 fastest-growing cities, six were in Texas, two were in Florida, and one each in South Carolina, Oregon, Arizona, Tennessee, Utah, Idaho, and Iowa.
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