Apr 7, 2023 - News

Franklin County's pandemic population dip now on the rebound

Explore this interactive map. Data: U.S. Census; Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Franklin County rebounded from its slight population dip in 2021 and grew by thousands of residents last year, per the latest U.S. Census Bureau estimates.

  • Surrounding counties, meanwhile, are among the fastest growing in the state.

Why it matters: The data indicates our brief decline was a pandemic blip and re-emphasizes the need for additional housing to accommodate our long-term pattern of growth, Michael Wilkos, a senior vice president of the United Way of Ohio, tells Axios.

State of play: All major Ohio metro areas (including ours) saw more residents move away between July 2020 and July 2022 than moved in, a trend caused by rising housing costs and more flexible remote work.

  • While most urban counties statewide declined in total population during that two-year timespan, Franklin County offset most of those movers by recording far more births than deaths.

What they're saying: This is what Wilkos, who closely studies demographic shifts, predicted to us last year.

  • He now points to most counties losing residents as evidence of Ohio's "aging population and lack of in-migration from other states."

Zoom out: Ohio lost 0.35% of its population in the two-year time frame, all while an expensive national marketing campaign trumpeted the state as a cheaper alternative to coastal metro areas.

  • That loss amounts to around 41,500 residents, partly owing to tens of thousands more deaths recorded than births.

The intrigue: Suburban Columbus remains a notable exception — its population continually grew over the two-year period.

  • The Nos. 1 and 2 counties in population growth were Union and Delaware, with Licking County and its under-construction Intel plant coming in at No. 7.
  • These counties are growing hotbeds for new warehouses, data centers and other major development projects attracting thousands of workers.

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