Census provides glimpse of region’s standings, needs

Published 7:00 pm Sunday, January 2, 2011

The early data on the 2010 U.S. Census introduces someinteresting results for Southwest Mississippi. While the state as awhole showed a 4.3 percent population gain, the southwest regionactually saw a slight decrease in population.

That initial data shows the importance of our region workingtogether in the years ahead to attract manufacturing and retailtrade industries that will then allow our region to match thegrowth of the rest of the state.

While the region as a whole lost population, Lincoln County can becredited with carrying the load for the area.

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Our county’s 3.46 percent population growth, followed by PikeCounty with 1.71 percent growth, led the region. Lincoln Countyadded 1,149 new folks while Pike added 666 people.

Adams County’s 2,855 population drop tipped the scales for the areain the wrong direction, offsetting any gains in the othercounties.

Traveling to other areas of the state, especially in northMississippi, where much of the state’s growth is centered, one cansee the impact of regional cooperation with one single example -the new Toyota plant. The economic impact of that multi-countyrelationship will allow the northeastern corner of the state toprosper for years to come.

The regional concept has not missed our area, as in recent yearsthe Southwest Mississippi Regional Partnership has workedtirelessly toward that goal by pulling the area leadershiptogether. As the economy improves so do this region’s chances toattract more jobs and improve wage scales.

For Lincoln County, the census data also provides other interestinginformation.

One key item is that even though growth occurred, as a county weare older than 10 years ago! While we want to attract as well ashold our older generation, we need to attract more working-agesingles and young families.

Further analysis shows that our county is wealthier than the othercounties in the region with a median income of $44,726 and secondin per capita income at $20,147. The good news is that LincolnCounty is slightly ahead of the state average for median income butslightly behind in per-capita income.

As we step into a new census decade, finding ways to improve thesestatistics is job one. Finding ways to attract younger singles andyounger families to our area should also be a top priority.

While it will not happen overnight, one wonders what steps – otherthan more jobs – need to be taken to encourage such a change.