The future isn't written in stone

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Statistics, numbers, projections and trends can all be useful tools used in planning. They also can be about as exciting as watching paint dry, or be manipulated to further an agenda. Numbers don't lie, the old saying goes, but the people who use them might.

A Washington based firm, Woods and Poole Economics Inc., has done a study of population trends of every state and county in the nation. The study predicted population fluctuations between 2005 to 2030. In this quarter century, the firm predicts the nation's population to grow by 28 percent.

How about Iowa? We are expected to grow 13 percent to have a total population of 3.3 million in 23 years. Cherokee County is expected to be one of the 41 counties in the state to have a population decline, dropping to 11,567 from the 2000 census total of 13,019.

Of neighboring counties, Woodbury, Plymouth and Buena Vista are expected to increase in population, while O'Brien and Ida decline.

Most of the state's growth is predicted in urban and suburban areas, while many rural areas are expected to lose people. Dallas County near Des Moines is projected to have 49 percent growth, the highest in the state and Adams County has the double distinction of being the state's least populous county -- with 4,223 residents in 2005 -- and the county projected to shrink the most, by 14 percent.

These projections are just best guesses. We certainly don't have to accept the projections as inevitable. We need to actively work toward reversing the trend in Cherokee County.