Dayton, area communities lose residents, Census says

Beavercreek, Springboro among local cities that have grown.

Dayton was one of a slew of Ohio cities whose populations shrank slightly last year, continuing a multi-year trend of population stagnation and loss, according to Census data released today.

But some officials warned not to put too much stock in the numbers and contend they do not necessarily reflect what is taking place in local communities.

“… I think we have increased our population a few hundred people per year for the last three or four years,” said Dayton Commissioner Matt Joseph.

The city had 140,599 residents in 2015, a decrease of 235 people from 2014, according to the new estimates.

Other local cities that lost population in 2015 included Kettering, Trotwood and Miamisburg, the data show.

Cities in the region with population growth included Beavercreek (217 residents) and Springboro (148 people).

Beavercreek continues to offer a desirable quality of life that consists of outstanding schools, many recreational amenities, attractive residential neighborhoods and successful commercial centers, said Beavercreek City Manager Mike Cornell.

“All of these ensure for the foreseeable future additional residential growth and interest in our community,” he said.

Census data suggest Dayton’s population dipped slightly in 2015 despite new housing that seeks to lure more residents to the urban core.

The city lost 235 residents last year and 956 in 2014, the data suggest. The city gained one resident in 2013 after shedding 91 residents in 2012 and 428 in 2011.

Dayton’s population has trended downward for decades.

In 1980, Dayton had 203,371 residents. By 2000, the city’s population had fallen to 166,179.

Dayton’s population last year shrank by 0.2 percent: Other local communities whose populations shrank by that percentage include Kettering, Trotwood, Miamisburg, West Carollton and Riverside.

Communities whose populations remained essentially flat included Centerville, Middletown, Xenia and Bellbrook.

Huber Heights, Fairborn, Brookville and Moraine saw small increases in population.

Beavercreek’s population increased by 0.5 percent to 46,277, while Springboro’s population jumped up 0.8 percent to 18,213.

However, some experts said the year-to-year changes are not statistically significant because they fall within the survey’s margin of error.

Researchers said declines over multiple years, such as in Dayton’s case, suggest the losses are real and may be linked to sluggish economic conditions.

Population growth is closely tied to economic growth, which is closely tied to existing industrial structure, said Richard Stock, the director of the Business Research Group at the University of Dayton.

Dayton’s economy was heavily concentrated in manufacturing, which took a big hit in the last 15 years, and cities whose economies are performing better were less dependent on that industrial sector, he said.

Parts of Dayton in and around downtown are poised for growth, but that growth is likely to be offset by housing elsewhere in the city that needs demolished, Stock said.

The city will add almost 200 units at the Water Street Flats downtown this year, as well as a few dozen townhomes. New units that came online last year included the Oriel Studios and the first of the Water Street apartments.

Population indicates the desirability of a place as well as being related to the quality of life, infrastructure and local economy, said Tony Kroeger, Dayton city planner.

Kroeger said he looks forward to the decennial Census, which is a far more thorough count of populations that occurs every 10 years. The next survey will take place in 2020.

“We don’t get too worked up on year-to-year counts,” he said.

Commissioner Joseph said Dayton is growing, despite what the Census might say.

Montgomery County’s population is shrinking, and the Census likely apportioned some of that decline to Dayton, which does not accurately reflect what’s taking place locally, he said.

People choose where to live based on jobs, and Dayton has experienced job growth in recent years, he said.

Employment in Dayton broke 55,000 workers last year for the first time since 2011, according to state labor data.

Joseph said there is demand for downtown housing, young people increasingly want to live in the urban center and Dayton’s welcoming policies toward immigrants and refugees has attracted more foreign-born people.

The Census produces population estimates at the county level based on administrative records, including births, deaths and migration, Sarah Gibb, statistician/demographer with the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Census then distributes county-level estimates down to cities and towns based on the area’s number of occupied housing units, average persons per household and other factors, she said.

Gibb said they have seen no evidence that Dayton’s population is increasing.

The Census said Oakwood has about 9,052 residents, down about 150 from 2010.

But City Manager Norbert Klopsch said the estimates have been wrong in the past because they were based on data that make assumptions that are not correct in places like Oakwood.

“Our population has been very consistent over the last few decades … we believe it’s right around 9,200,” he said.


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