Does it sometimes feel like a lot of people around you are packing up and leaving? If you’re in Atlantic County, you might have noticed a trend. The county lost more than 3,700 people in the last two years, more than 5 a day*, according to the latest estimates published by the U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday. The estimates show that the pace of population shrinkage in the county has increased, too.
Check out how Atlantic County compares to other shrinking counties in South Jersey (Gloucester county is the only one of the six southernmost counties to show a population increase between 2010 and 2016, according to the Census Bureau estimates):
Last year the Atlantic County population shrunk faster than in any of the seven previous years of Census Bureau estimates, which are based on the 2010 census. People started leaving in 2014, when four Atlantic City casinos closed, and more people have left each year since, according to the estimates.
Why does this matter? Population growth indicates a healthy local economy – businesses look at population data when considering whether to open new stores or relocate offices or manufacturing plants.
Here’s the breakdown of population change by year since the last census in 2010:
The Census Bureau numbers include estimates of net migration (people moving to and from other parts of the United States) as well as international immigration (yours truly) and what’s interesting is that for all the counties, many more people left than moved in. In Gloucester County, however, that number was pretty close (an estimated 2,247 moved in from overseas, while an estimated 2,388 moved to another part of the United States).
Most worryingly for Salem and Cape May counties is that their death rate is outstripping the birth rate. Natural population change (just change from births and deaths, not taking migration into account) showed a decline in both counties. You can see those numbers here, in a table of the estimated population change data for 2016 for six South Jersey counties:
|Total Population||Natural Increase||Births||Deaths||Net Migration 2015-2016||International Migration||Domestic Migration|
|Cape May County||94,430||-367||941||1,308||30||229||-199|
*Corrected 8:45 am to show net population outflow over last two years not over last year.