Census Report: County Population Continues Decline

For the eighth year, the estimated population is Chautauqua County has declined. Since 2010, the total population has decreased by 5.2 percent, the U.S. Census Bureau reported. AP photo

For the eighth consecutive year, the total population in Chautauqua County is estimated to have declined. That’s according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest release of county-level population estimates.

The county lost 670 people in the 12 months that ended July 1, bringing the total population to about 127,939. A year earlier, the population was estimated at 128,609

Since the bureau’s last full census in 2010, Chautauqua County has lost 5.2 percent of its total population. Only four counties in the state lost more: Chenango County (5.9 percent), Delaware County (7.2 percent), Hamilton County (8.4 percent) and Orleans County (5.3 percent), though none have a bigger population base than Chautauqua County.

State Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-Jamestown, said the estimates can be tied in part to the amount of manufacturing jobs that have left the county. He said with the increased minimum wage in New York, some manufacturing companies have shifted jobs elsewhere.

“Some places are eliminating entry-level positions all across the field,” Goodell said. “You can’t go to a major retailer without seeing those self checkout lines.”

Goodell said the hit to the local agriculture industry — including the closure of several local family farms — also could have played a role in the population decline.

Of the state’s 62 counties, 17 have seen a population increase in the last eight years: Albany County (1 percent), Bronx County (3.4 percent), Erie County (.1 percent), Kings County (3.1 percent), Nassau County (1.4 percent), New York County (2.7 percent), Ontario County (1.6 percent), Orange County (2.4 percent), Queens County (2.2 percent), Rensselaer County (.01 percent), Richmond County (1.6 percent), Rockland County (4.5 percent), Saratoga County (4.8 percent), Schenectady County (.04 percent), Tompkins County (1.2 percent) and Westchester County (1.9 percent).

In neighboring Cattaraugus County, the population as of July 1 was estimated at 76,840, down 405 people from 2017.

Since 2010, the population has declined by 4.4 percent.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the counties with the largest growth are all located in the south and west.

By metropolitan area, Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas, had the largest growth with a gain of 131,767 (1.8 percent) in 2018, followed by Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz., with an increase of 96,268 (2 percent).

The bureau said migration, both domestic and international, as well as natural increase contributed to the growth in those areas, “with natural increase serving as the largest source of population growth in Dallas and domestic migration serving as the largest source in Phoenix,” the U.S. Cenus Bureau said.

“One interesting trend we are seeing this year is that metro areas not among the most populous are ranked in the top 10 for population growth,” said Sandra Johnson, a demographer in the Census Bureau’s Population Division. “Though no new metro areas moved into the top 10 largest areas, Phoenix, Seattle, Austin, and Orlando all experienced numeric increases in population since 2010, rivaling growth in areas with much larger populations. This trend is consistent with the overall growth we are seeing in the south and the west.”

Out of 3,142 counties in the country, 1,739 (55.3 percent) gained population between 2017 and 2018. Twelve counties (0.4 percent) experienced no change in population during this time, while the remaining 1,391 (44.3 percent) lost population.

Between 2010 and 2018, 1,481 (47.1 percent) counties gained population and 1,661 (52.9 percent) lost population.