Newly released census numbers reflect local trends

By Josh Ellerbrock -

LIMA — With 2019 wrapping up, the U.S. Census Bureau released updated 2018 numbers this past week, and while there are few surprises, the region continues to change alongside national social, demographic and economic trends.

On the demographic front, population continues to trend downward in Allen County, but the details give some hint on how such changes are affecting the wider county.

In Allen County, numbers show that the county is increasingly growing older while younger populations either age up or leave the region altogether. When comparing five-year estimates from the first half of the decade to the latter half, the census estimates 1,447 more people entered retirement age in Allen County. Meanwhile, 1,244 of working age adults left.

Such a change puts extra pressure on local employers looking for workers as the local labor force shrinks accordingly, from 52,051 to 51,500.

The population’s largest demographic shift, however, is the number of minors. Those under 18, as a group, shrunk by almost 2,500 people, which can be seen in decreasing school enrollment numbers across the area.

The phenomenon is also reflected in the size and number of households. Basically, trends point to people having fewer children as the number of households remain near 40,500 despite a population loss of 2,000 in the county.

Lower fertility rates, however, come with some good news. The census estimates that the number of teen births especially took a major dive between the first and second half of the decade as the 56 per 1,000 teen birth rate dropped to 7 per 1,000 teen women.

Other notable trends in Allen County include educational and economic ones.

The push for associate’s degrees has upped educational attainment rates for those holding associate’s degrees from 9% to 12.4%, with no change in the percentage of those holding bachelor’s degrees.

The education trend aligns with economic shifts tracked by the census. Comparisons between the two halves of the decade show that the construction, manufacturing and logistical industries all saw statistically significant increases between the two data sets. All other industry sectors, except for agriculture, public administration and information, saw smaller slices of the economic pie.

Industry sectors with statistically significant reductions include the professional, scientific and management industry sector and the other services sector.

Median household income in Allen County has increased from $46,285 to $50,552, and per capita income increased from $24,072 to $25,662.

While many surrounding counties have somewhat similar trends as Allen County, there are a few deviations worth mentioning. In Mercer County, population loss between the two five-year periods was practically negligible due to a decrease of 5. Van Wert County’s average age, while higher than most counties at 40.9, actually saw a small decrease from prior years, and Auglaize County fertility rates actually increased significantly between the two measurable periods with birth rates increasing by 50% for women between the ages of 20 and 34.

On the economic front, counties differed greatly when it comes to the shifting of industry sectors, although manufacturing tended to rise across the board.

The county with the highest per capita increase, however, was Mercer County, which saw a per capita increase from $26,082 to $28,513, or 9.3%. Auglaize and Putnam counties both came in a close second with 9.2% increases, followed by Van Wert, which saw an 8.5% increase, Allen County, which saw a 6.6% increase, and Hardin County, which saw the least per capita increase gain at 5.4%.

By Josh Ellerbrock

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

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