Jefferson City ranks near bottom of US metro areas for population … – Jefferson City News Tribune

Jefferson City leaders have discussed a lack of growth in the community during the past few months, but a new report using federal data shows how far the community has gone in the opposite direction recently.
The report, compiled by the Inspection Support Network, used data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau. The report ranked the Jefferson City Metropolitan Statistical Area, which covers the Capital City and several smaller communities in the area, No. 312 out of 390 U.S. metros for population change.
According to federal census data from 2016-21, the Jefferson City metro area’s population decreased by 669 residents, a 0.4 percent decrease. The Jefferson City MSA population settled at 150,706, according to the report.
The study said most of the lost population had headed to Columbia.
Jefferson City Regional Economic Partnership President and CEO Luke Holtschneider said the population was one of the area’s biggest economic development stumbling blocks.
“If you don’t have growth, many times economic activity stagnates or decreases,” Holtschneider told the News Tribune. “It’s limiting the opportunities we can offer here. We have existing industry and opportunities, but they’re challenged by the lack of a workforce and a stagnated population.”
Local leaders and stakeholders in the business community have pointed to the slight decrease in population, an aging resident base, housing variety and affordability, incomes and education, and more. These issues and possible solutions were part of a study released earlier this year by the Capital City Housing Task Force, which also highlighted the loss of numerous homes amid the 2019 tornado that devastated the area.
One solution heavily pursued recently was an attempt at state tax credits for four workforce housing projects, a mission endorsed by the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce and other local groups, though the Jefferson City Council was split in its support for the projects.
The Missouri Housing Development Commission rejected all four housing projects last week, leaving developers and non-profits disappointed as they continue to try and address the community’s housing needs.
“We know that for a few years now we’ve struggled with population, especially after the tornado,” Jefferson City Mayor Carrie Tergin said. “When some people left because their homes were destroyed, many of them didn’t have a place to come back to. It’s still an impact that we’re feeling today, and we have developers who are interested in addressing it. Our community and business community remained focused on meeting that need.”
Jefferson City was the second-lowest ranked metro area with 100,000 or more residents for population growth in Missouri, with the St. Joseph metro area ranked No. 384 with a 4.9 percent population decrease. The report found many of those leaving the area were headed to the Kansas City metro area.
The Springfield area, which ranked No. 105 in the U.S., saw the most growth in Missouri, gaining more than 23,500 residents for a 5.1 percent increase. Columbia followed at No. 123 with a 4.4 percent increase, amounting to more than 9,000 new residents, while the 124-ranked Kansas City region also saw a 4.4 percent growth adding more than 92,000 new residents.
Joplin came in at No. 187 on the list, with 5,144 new residents making up a 2.9 percent population jump, while the St. Louis area ranked No. 291 with a 0.1 percent increase with 3,797 new residents.
Missouri as a whole, meanwhile, ranked No. 35 among the states with a 1.3 percent population increase and 81,052 new residents, according to the report. The analysis found much of the state’s outgoing population was headed to neighboring Illinois.
The U.S. as a whole saw a population increase of 8.9 million people, a 2.8 percent increase that brought the country to more than 331.8 million residents.
“The world population recently passed 8 billion, just 11 years after reaching 7 billion. But across the globe, more countries are experiencing slowing or declining rates of population growth. The U.S. is no exception,” the report read. “The Census Bureau pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic as one factor in this slow growth: excess mortality from the pandemic increased the number of deaths, while restrictions around travel and migration related to the pandemic limited growth from immigration.”
Read the full report online at

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