Cincinnati Expected to Soon Drop Under 300,000 Population
Cincinnati is expected to lose more residents during the next four years, enough that it could put the city’s eligibility for certain state and federal funding at risk and cause cutbacks in services to residents, economic experts told city council this week.
City Council’s finance committee received a multi-year economic and demographic forecast Monday from the University of Cincinnati’s Economics Center for Education and Research.
The forecast kicks off city council’s planning process to devise a 2007-08 municipal budget. Council will set priorities for the budget during the next few weeks, then Mayor Mark Mallory will submit a proposed spending plan this fall. Council will tinker with that document and pass a final budget, probably in December.
Cincinnati’s population, currently at 308,590 people, will drop below 300,000 by the 2010 U.S. Census, according to the forecast. In addition, the Cincinnati and Dayton metro areas will merge after the Census for classification purposes, the UC report states.
The Queen City’s population was just more than 330,000 in the 2000 Census. The numbers are decreasing as people move into outlying areas like fast-developing Butler, Clermont and Warren counties.
The shift is important because eligibility for some state and federal programs and grants depends on population level. Further, Cincinnati could find itself competing against Dayton for some of the same limited funding, and economists say the continued northern suburban draw will pull more of the educated workforce away from Cincinnati and Hamilton County.
About 39 percent of Cincinnati residents currently work outside city limits, and 65 percent of Cincinnati’s workforce lives outside the city.
“Both of these ratios have increased since 1990,” said George Vredeveld, a UC economics professor who helped compile the report. “If, in fact, employers follow employees, it could have a very significant detrimental impact on Cincinnati.”
The rate of population loss, however, is slowing for the first time in decades, since suburban flight began in earnest during the 1950s.
Moreover, downtown lost 6,333 jobs between 2000 and 2005, a 7.5 percent decrease. By comparison, the uptown neighborhoods — where UC and many hospitals are located — added 3,449 jobs, or a 7.8 percent increase. Uptown consists of the Avondale, Clifton, Clifton Heights, Corryville, Fairview, Mount Auburn and University Heights neighborhoods.
Overall, Cincinnati’s employment level dropped 3.2 percent during that time period.
Still, there was some good news for city officials. Cincinnati’s total share of Hamilton County employment increased from 46.4 percent to 48 percent because of greater losses in county suburbs. And the city’s employment level is expected to remain fairly steady over the next few years because some job sectors, such as health care, are expected to grow more rapidly than others.
— Kevin Osborne