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Lafayette County third fastest growing county in Mississippi

Since the 2010 U.S. Census, Lafayette County has gained more than 6,811 residents, which resulted in a 22.76 percent increase, making it the third highest percentage growth in the state, according to estimates released Thursday morning by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The population projection for Lafayette County by July 1 is 54,374, which is a 1.07 percent gain from the 2016 projection estimates.

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.

Oxford and Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jon Maynard said the growth percentage is a little down from last year, which showed projected 1.48 percent growth from 2015 to 2016.

“We’ve been steadily growing since the mid-80s at an average of a 2 percent growth rate each year,” he said Thursday. “That is a sustainable rate. It may waiver a percent point, but it remains about the same.”

While the percentage number doesn’t change drastically each year, the number of people moving into Lafayette County grows.

“One or 2 percent of 50,000 is more than 1 or 2 percent of 20,000,” Maynard said.

Maynard said the city of Oxford, Lafayette County and the University of Mississippi have been working together to help meet the demands of the county’s growth, which is projected to hit a population of 57,197 by 2020.

Lafayette County is the 13th most populated county in Mississippi.

“We’ll keep creating jobs, a positive environment and do what we need to do to make sure Oxford is still Oxford,” he said.

Lafayette County saw its highest gain in 2011 to 2012 with a 3.89 percent increase in population and its lowest in 2013 to 2014 with a 1.04 percent gain.

While population continues to grow, so does the amount of money residents are spending in Lafayette County.

According to numbers released last week by the Mississippi Department of Revenue, Lafayette County’s retail sales were $1.3 billion in 2017, up $157 million from 2016, a 14 percent increase.

“Lafayette County had the largest increase in retail sales of any other county in the state,” Maynard said.

Total employment grew by 7 percent, the third largest growth in the state.

“We added 1,590 jobs from 2016 to 2017,” Maynard said.

The average wage in Lafayette County, which includes the University of Mississippi and Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi, is $19.20 an hour and the average annual salary is $39,930. The state average annual salary is $37,487.

“So we’re not only adding jobs, but we’re adding good jobs,” Maynard said.

Regionally, Panola County saw a 0.05 percent decrease in population, from 34,160 in 2016 to 33,994 in 2017. Yalobusha County saw a slight increase after having a decrease for the last few years. Yalobusha’s population rose from 12,489 to 12,497, a .21 percent increase.