‘Sneak Preview’ Of Census Shows Ominous Numbers For Potter County

From Potter County Today

Although the 2010 census is still a work in progress, the U.S. Census Bureau has released another interim report estimating each county’s population as of 2009. Entering 2010, Potter County’s population stood at 16,714, a decrease of some 1,366 people from the official 2000 census.

Job losses and an aging population are two of the major factors driving the local figures downward. The county’s population was rising rapidly at the start of the decade, hitting a modern-day peak of 18,155 in July 2002. Then, Adelphia Communications Corp. plunged into bankruptcy and hundreds of families packed up and fled.

But not all of the population decrease is attributable to outmigration. Potter County’s population has been aging rapidly. At the same time that more retirees are relocating to the region — and more high school graduates moving away — a larger proportion of long-time residents are reaching the end of their life expectancy.

It’s difficult to quantify the ripple effect of a population decrease, but one measure is the U.S. Census Bureau’s estimate that each person counted brings to a county some $10,000 in federal and state funding during the decade. By simple multiplication, the impact of outmigration on federal and state funding alone would measure more than $13 million in Potter County.

Thanks to Commissioner Paul Heimel for re-print

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