Leflore County’s population continues to decline, according to the latest estimates of the U.S. Census Bureau.
On Thursday, the federal headcounters released their county-by-county estimates for the nation. They showed Leflore County with 28,919 residents in 2018, 1.4% less than the year before and 10.5% less than when the actual census was taken in 2010.
John Paul Walker, the assistant vice president for Greenwood at CB&S Bank, said he was disappointed but not shocked to see the latest slide in population.
The 37-year-old Greenwood native said the area’s population is aging, and although he and plenty of others of his generation have chosen to settle in their hometown, they haven’t been able to offset the number of residents who have died off.
“The people who are passing away, their kids do not live here. They live off,” he said.
In neighboring Carroll County, the situation was a little better, but not much.
The Census Bureau projects Carroll County with a 2018 population of 9,911, down 2% from the year before and 6.5% from the 2010 census.
Angela Curry, executive director of the Greenwood-Leflore-Carroll Economic Development Foundation, said, “To the younger generation, rural living may not be attractive. They may look for other things in the way of entertainment, even though we are in good proximity to Jackson and Memphis. You just have families who want to be in a large metropolitan area.”
She said the greater demand for young workers, particularly college graduates, in urban areas is also a major factor.
“We are not attracting college graduates/millennials due to a lack of white-collar jobs,” she said. “They go other places with better job opportunities. We do have blue-collar jobs readily available.”
How can the trend be reversed?
Improve the quality of life, especially in education, health care and recreation, said Curry. “There is no doubt that people who choose to live here love it here.”
Walker has another idea: less government regulation on start-up businesses.
“Our government does not make it easy to venture out and start your own business,” he said.
Municipal estimates for 2018 have not been released yet. The latest projections for Greenwood showed a population of 13,996 in 2017, down 8% since the 2010 census.
The numbers for Mississippi as a whole were released late last year. They showed an anemic growth of six-tenths of 1% since 2010, the sixth-lowest rate of growth in the nation. Observers have attributed the stagnant population in the predominantly rural state to a national movement toward urban centers.
•Contact Tim Kalich at 581-7243 or email@example.com.