First, the good news. Sort of.
According to Annual Residents Population Estimates published by the U.S. Census Bureau, 32 of the 82 counties in Mississippi — just a little over 39% of the counties — increased in population from 2010 to 2014. The unfortunate and obvious corollary to that is the majority (61%) of Mississippi counties saw their populations decline.
Rankin County’s population growth is only fair-to-middling.
Of the Mississippi counties that actually grew in population, Rankin County ranked 12th. That’s not exactly setting the woods on fire. Here’s a chart of all the Mississippi counties that increased in population.
Here’s the real problem.
In comparison to other Mississippi counties, Rankin County’s population growth is only so-so. But here’s the thing. Most of the growth that occurred in Rankin County was attributable to births in Rankin County. Now, that may sound axiomatic, but the economic impact of a baby, at least in the short term, is far less significant than, say, an employed adult. The following is a chart of the components of change for Rankin County.
As you can see from the chart, native population growth — that’s all births minus all deaths — accounted for nearly 82% of Rankin County’s growth from 2010 to 2014. Why is that a “problem?” Look, I love babies as much as the next guy (I have five kids), but I strongly suspect the supervisors in Rankin County would prefer to see a lot more migration into Rankin County. Maybe something more like Madison County…
…and most certainly not like Hinds County, where people are leaving 3 times as fast as they’re being born.
Rankin County is almost last in migration.
Of all the Mississippi counties that had positive net migration (i.e., more people moved into a county than moved out), Rankin County ranks near the bottom — 18th out of 20 counties. Just above Pike County and Itawamba County.
Why aren’t people moving into Rankin County?
I’m not sure. Does it have anything to do with Rankin County’s moratorium on multi-family housing, which has been in place for years now? Maybe. I think there are compelling arguments on both sides of that question. In any case, this trend does not bode well for the long-term future of Rankin County. Whatever the reason, I sure hope the folks at Rankin First Economic Development Authority have a plan to fix it.
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