Breaking down the latest Census projections that show Jackson as the fastest shrinking city in the U.S.

Published: Aug. 18, 2023 at 8:21 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -The most recent U.S. Census projection shows Jackson taking the top spot of the fastest-shrinking city in the country, losing 2.5 percent of its population from July 2021 to 2022. We’re breaking down how that stacks up with the other information released in the last couple of years.

“I think, with population projections, it’s always a grain of salt,” said Jamiko Deleveaux, Interim Director for the Center for Population Studies at the University of Mississippi. “Sometimes it’s going to be negative, sometimes it’s going to be positive. But it also doesn’t take into account some of the social and economic factors that are also going to be happening within our communities, specifically Jackson.”

Jamiko Deleveaux says factors like the Dobbs decision that will mean more babies being born in the state and new companies or job opportunities aren’t factored into the projections. But he thinks Mississippi needs to do a better job of telling its story and highlighting opportunities like a lower cost of living.

“When we look at places like Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville—like all these places are growing,” added Deleveaux. “And I think one of the major things that helps these cities grow is that we’re starting to see influxes of people moving into the core of these metropolitan areas, the downtown areas, and because they have, they want to be closer to job opportunities, and they also want the amenities that are afforded to them by living downtown. And I think for the city like Jackson, it has all these potentials.”

From 2020 to 2022, Jackson lost 5% of its population. While all less than 1%, Gulfport, Biloxi, and Hattiesburg also saw dips. But pair that with the information that Mississippi’s 2020 data was an undercount and the state actually gained population. Deleveaux says that shows everyone isn’t crossing the state lines.

“They’re saying, ‘Hey, everybody’s leaving Jackson,’” noted Deleveaux. “And we’re not saying that. Hey, people might be leaving Jackson, but they’re staying in the state. And they’re just commuting into Jackson for work.”

Not all Southern cities lost population. It was actually the opposite. Nine of the cities with the largest gains are in the South, with Texas and Florida each having multiple cities on the list.

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