Census: Ohio gets more shrinkage

By Tim Doulin The Columbus Dispatch (KRT)

Ohioans are leaving the state even faster than they were a decade ago, the Census Bureau says.

From 2000 to 2004, 126,452 more people moved out of Ohio than moved in, according to estimates contained in a report the bureau issued today.

The state lost an average of 31,613 residents each year during that period. In the 1990s, average net loss was 19,563 a year.

Only California, Illinois, Massachu-setts, New Jersey and New York suffered greater net losses in the first half of the 2000s.

The economy is a big reason, experts said.

“The Ohio economy has experienced recession longer than the rest of the country, and in particular in regard to employment,” said Mark Salling, a demographic expert at Cleveland State University.

“When people do not have jobs, they will move.”

The census report showed the number of people moving into and out of each state and the 25 largest metropolitan areas. Columbus was not included in the latter category.

In 18 of those metro areas, more people moved out than moved in from 2000 to ’04. The New York metropolitan area had a net loss of about 211,000 residents a year. The Riverside, Calif., metro area gained the most, about 81,000 a year.

The Cleveland area lost 12,306 a year, and metropolitan Cincinnati was down 2,239 a year.

Experts say people are fleeing big cities for places with cheaper housing and open spaces.

“It’s a case of middle-class flight, a flight for housing affordability,” said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, a policy research group in Washington.

The newest figures continue a trend that started about 30 years ago.

“You are talking about a general population in the millions that move on an annual basis, and we are looking at just the net effect,” said Steven Kelley, senior economist for the Ohio Department of Development.

“There is a lot of movement that goes in and out to come up with the net number.”

Despite the overall state numbers, Kelley pointed to Delaware and Warren counties,among the fastest-growing in the nation.

But the growth in those counties comes at the expense of Columbus and Cincinnati. Both cities’ suburbs are pushing out, said Marc Perry, a U.S. Census demographer and author of the report.