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Lafayette County sees highest growth in state

Since the 2010 U.S. Census, Lafayette County has gained more than 6,400 residents, which resulted in a 13.61 percent increase, making it the highest percentage growth in the state in the last seven years, according to estimates released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Lafayette County has the fifth highest population in the state.

The Census Bureau conducts a census every 10 years, with the next Decennial Census scheduled for 2020. Population estimates are released on an annual basis as a way to reflect changes in the population, taking into account census data along with other sources, such as vital statistics on births and deaths.

Among its numerous data products, the Census Bureau also collects and disseminates data from the American Community Survey, an ongoing survey conducted nationwide to provide estimates that show us the characteristics of people and their lives in a continuously updated manner.

“Combined, these data sources provide us with detailed information on the size, characteristics and changes in our population,” said John Green, director of the University of Mississippi Center for Population Studies, “These are exciting and informative data sources in that they can help us to better understand people and the places where they live, and analysis can be conducted to inform policy makers, nonprofits and businesses in efforts to improve quality of life through community and economic development, education, health and social services.”

According to recent estimates, 3,419 babies were born since 2010 and 2,331 people died. Almost 400 people migrated to the county from out of the county and an estimated 4,679 people moved to Lafayette from inside the United States.

From July 1, 2015 to July 1, 2016, the county gained 782 residents, a 1.19 percent increase. The annual growth rates have varied from year-to-year since 2010, with Lafayette seeing its highest gain in 2011 to 2012 with a 3.89 percent increase in population, to its lowest in 2013 to 2014 with a 1.04 percent gain.

Jon Maynard, president and CEO of the Oxford and Lafayette Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Foundation said Lafayette County’s growth fit the trend the county has seen for the past 26 years.

“Some years are bigger than others, but we continue to see a steady 1 to 2 percent annual growth in Oxford,” he said Wednesday. “Oxford is a destination for students, alumni, retirees and anyone who is seeking a real quality place to live. Keeping our growth to the 1 to 2 percent level, as I see it, allows us to get ahead of the growth curve and prepare the physical infrastructure to accommodate the population of the future.”

Harrison County saw the most additional residents over the seven-year period at 16,129, with DeSoto, Madison and Rankin counties following suit. Panola and Yalobusha counties have lost population since 2010, with Panola County dropping down 536 residents in that time and Yalobusha losing 207.

Green said challenges and opportunities related to population can vary depending on the region and community.

“Using housing as an example, in some places it is a matter of too few options for rental housing, while in others it could be that the price of housing for purchase is too high relative to incomes in the area. Fast population growth in an area can lead to pressures on housing, while places without migration may face challenges with vacant housing,” he said Wednesday. “In terms of population and development, the city of Oxford has been growing substantially, and there are the additional demands for housing given the university. This includes housing for students, faculty and staff, as well as people who work at the wide range of businesses providing goods and services. There is also development in Lafayette County more broadly.”