Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

March 27, 2014

Going down

Estimates show county population shrinking

Allegany County’s census — already expected to show little growth over the next decade — went in the wrong direction in the one-year period of July 1, 2012 to July 1, 2013. Estimates released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau said the county’s population declined by 350 during the year.

The county’s loss was the largest in the state. Only three other jurisdiction showed a decline over the year — Kent, Queen Anne's and Talbot counties on the Eastern Shore. Combined, Allegany and the three Shore counties accounted for a 650 loss in the census.

Overall, the state’s population grew by about 44,000. About half of that increase came in the four suburban counties of Montgomery, Prince George’s, Anne Arundel and Baltimore.

Garrett County had an estimated population gain of 39 in the one-year period, while Washington County saw an increase of 501.

Some of Allegany County’s population decline appears to be due to the death rate being higher than the birth rate. From 2010 to 2013, the Census Bureau reports 2,203 births for Allegany, compared to 2,861 deaths.

It’s discouraging to see the local area continue with a stagnant population total. We are hopeful that the city of Cumberland’s decision to have an economic development study done by an outside independent firm will help the city and county find ways to boost the local economy and bring jobs and new residents to the area. The study will be done by a New Hampshire firm which will look at ways local officials can capitalize on the community’s strengths and attributes.

Perhaps this “fresh set of eyes” — as Stuart Czapski, executive director of the Allegany County Chamber of Commerce, described it — will bring an approach that will finally work.

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