Census shows city's losses to suburbs continue

But population declines slower for Baltimore

gains ease in Howard

`The trend is still outward'

Annual projections find Maryland with 1.3 percent growth, higher than U.S.

April 17, 2003|By Eric Siegel | Eric Siegel,SUN STAFF

Following the pattern of the past half century, Baltimore continues to lose people while the city's suburbs keep gaining them, according to new census estimates being released today.

The estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau - which cover the year from July 1, 2001, to July 1, 2002 - show a decrease in the city's rate of decline compared to the 1990s, as well as a slowing of growth in Howard County.

The region's other suburban counties - Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll and Harford - grew at roughly the same pace they did in the last decade.

Baltimore lost 6,691 people during the year, compared with an average of 8,486 a year in the 1990s, according to the estimates.

In the suburbs, Howard County gained 4,705 people, down from an average annual growth of 6,051 in the last decade. Its population increase was surpassed by that of Harford County, which added 4,914 people, and nearly equaled by that of Carroll County, with 4,386, or 2.8 percent - the highest percentage increase in the Baltimore metropolitan area.

Baltimore County added 7,185 people and Anne Arundel saw its population swell by 5,808.

Last year, Baltimore successfully challenged Census Bureau estimates that showed the city losing 1,000 people a month between April 1, 2000, and July 1, 2001 - and the agency later revised its figures to show a decline of about 390.

Mayor Martin O'Malley, citing increases in building permits and other data, said yesterday that the city "may well challenge the estimates again this time and we may well succeed."

"Even if one was to accept this new estimate, the rate of loss is less," he added.

Dunbar Brooks, a demographer with the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, agreed that the decrease in the city's decline was "some cause for optimism" but noted, "The trend is still outward."

"There are strong development pressures in all the suburban destinations and there are more and more employment opportunities there," he said.

The newly released estimates also show that:

Montgomery County, the state's most populous jurisdiction, added 15,135 people and now stands at 910,156.

Calvert County led the state in percentage increase in population with 4.1 percent, making it one of the country's 100 fastest-growing counties, followed by Frederick and Queen Anne's with 3.3 percent.

Overall, Maryland's population grew by 72,058 people or 1.3 percent, slightly higher than the national average of 1.1 percent.

In addition, two of the 10 fastest-growing counties in the country were in Washington's northern Virginia suburbs: Loudoun County, which was second with 7.3 percent growth, and Stafford County, which was ninth with 6.2 percent. The country's fastest-growing county was Rockwall, Texas, outside of Dallas.

Census Bureau estimates - which are based on births, deaths, immigration and the movement of people within the country - are issued every year between the decennial censuses.

Between July 1, 2001, and July 1, 2002, the city recorded 1,950 more births than deaths, according to the Census Bureau. The city added just 1,466 immigrants - slightly less than the annual average of foreign-born residents who came to the city in the 1990s and far fewer than the number a recent Abell Foundation report said the city must attract to rebuild its population.

And 10,238 more people moved out of the city than moved into it from within the country.

The only other two Maryland jurisdictions to show a significant decrease in what the census calls "internal migration" were Montgomery and Prince George's counties, with 3,144 and 1,012 people respectively.

But both those counties had about 8,000 more births than deaths. And Montgomery had a net gain of 11,007 immigrants, while Prince George's had 6,116.

Many of those people who moved out of Montgomery County probably went to Frederick County, which had a net gain of 4,762 people who moved there from within the United States, highest in the state. Carroll County was second with 3,681, followed by Baltimore County with 3,244.

Baltimore County also had 1,735 more births than deaths and gained 2,325 immigrants.

Although Baltimore County's overall growth was modest compared to other metropolitan counties, it was still abnormally high and likely reflects the effects of low interest rates, which have helped people move into the housing market, said Planning Director Arnold F. "Pat" Keller III.

In the future, growth will probably taper off, he said. "There's no way we can sustain that," Keller said.

The slowing growth in Howard County - one of the state's fastest-growing counties for decades - is partially the result of development controls passed in 2000. But the change was inevitable for the county, which is the second-smallest in the state as measured by square miles and is running out of land for new houses.

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