Ohio cities see slower growth than rest of country, analysis finds

Many cities in Ohio are experiencing slower population increases than other cities across the country, and one Buckeye State community ranked among the worst of any small town in the nation, according to a new analysis.

Columbus was the fastest growing city in Ohio, but ranked No. 185 overall in the country, according to an analysis from WalletHub. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Canton ranked No. 514 of the 515 cities WalletHub analyzed nationwide.

WalletHub analyzed 17 growth and decline measures over seven years, including job growth and the unemployment rate. While Columbus had a total population growth of 1.7 percent, it saw slower rates of increases in the working-age population (1.52 percent) and college-educated population (0.52 percent).

“Columbus is the only Ohio city that ranks in the top half,” WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez said in an email. “The other nine cities we looked at lack in or have a very small growth in several categories.”

Of the Ohio cities WalletHub examined, Toledo had the largest population decline at 0.54 percent, Gonzalez noted. Overall population growth rates of Ohio cities were:

• Columbus: 1.70 percent

• Cincinnati: 0.34 percent

• Lorain 0.08 percent

• Akron: -0.04 percent

• Dayton: -0.08 percent

• Youngstown: -0.11 percent

• Cleveland -0.31 percent

• Parma: -0.39 percent

• Canton: -0.51 percent

• Toledo: -0.54 percent

The working-age population has also been dropping in most of these cities. Canton experienced the highest drop, at 1.74 percent, while Toledo saw a decline of 0.95 percent and Lorain saw a 0.38 percent decline.

“When it comes to jobs, most Ohio cities are seeing only minor growth, below 1 percent,” Gonzalez said. “Most of these cities are also experiencing drops in the number of startups, and the amount of venture capital investments. Another thing they have in common is some of the smallest growth in median house prices and building permit activity.”

But the results were not entirely dire for “The Heart of it All.” Cincinnati saw a 1.47 percent growth in the share of college-educated population, while Parma saw a 1.3 percent increase and Cleveland saw a 0.68 percent increase.

Lehigh Acres, Florida, was the fastest growing city, followed by Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, and Bend, Oregon. Enterprise, Nevada, and Frisco, Texas, rounded out the top five fastest-growing cities.

In developing the list, WalletHub analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the National Venture Capital Association and Renwood RealtyTrac.

Gonzalez said Ohio’s leaders “could improve this situation by developing strategies to draw in more businesses and entrepreneurs.” This would create more jobs and “help cities grow both demographically and economically.”

State leaders in Ohio have identified improving homegrown talent and bolstering Ohio’s position within the global marketplace as priorities. One such example is the Ohio Export Internship Program (OEIP), which aims to grow the next pool of talent in the worldwide trade and commerce space.

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