Continuing Population Decline Points to Importance of Development Strategies

September 24th, 2018, 12:00 AM

Little boy at sunset

Erie County's population slide and graying trend continue, according to newly released U.S. Census Bureau data posted to Erie Vital Signs. The County and City of Erie lost 1% of their population from 2016 to 2017, while the state's population was flat and the nation's inched up 1%.  This means since 2000, the county's population is down about 2% and the city's 6%, in contrast to 4% and 16% gains in the state and nation.

Among age groups, children and youth have declined the most, with those under 20 down 15% in the county, down 8% in the state and up 2% in the nation. Growing populations are those 60-84 and 85 or older, with increases of 30% and 44% in the county – less than the 50% growth seen in the nation.

How to right-size and strengthen the county's core was the subject of the City's Erie Refocused 2016 comprehensive plan, which laid out principles and key questions for decision-making aimed at moving Erie out of a fearful mindset of waiting for the next announcements of layoffs. As the report makes clear, cities have a key role to play in creating amenity-rich environments with a high quality of life where skilled workers and entrepreneurs choose to live and work, as well as fostering cultures that reward risk-taking and encourage collaboration. In addition, making the city's major assets the best they can be is central to the region's overall economic development. 

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