Census estimates show loss
Published 4:06 am Wednesday, July 5, 2006
By By KERRY WHIPPLE BEAN – Publisher
Brewton and East Brewton have lost a combined 197 people over the past five years, according to U.S. Census estimates.
But a population expert said local residents shouldn't read too much into the numbers.
The Census Bureau releases population estimates every year, although the actual census is taken every 10 years.
According to the numbers released last week, Brewton lost 125 people - moving from 5,498 to 5,372 - while East Brewton lost about 72 people, moving from 2,496 to 2,424. Tiny Jay, Fla., just across the state line, actually gained residents, according to estimates, growing from 579 people to 665.
One thing that drives the estimates, Watters said, is what happened between the 1990 and 2000 census reports. If towns in Escambia County were already on a trend of losing population, that factors in to the new estimates.
Census estimates also take into account building permits and assumes a certain percentage of houses would be demolished.
Many small rural communities across Alabama continued to show a decline in population, according to Census estimates, while many small suburban communities continued to grow.
Escambia County Administrator Tony Sanks said the estimates likely won't have an impact on cities' or counties' ability to attract federal or state funding.
Sanks did note, though, that fewer residents would likely correlate to fewer people purchasing goods and services and paying taxes.
But Watters noted that census estimates for cities only include residents inside city limits, so they don't take into account growth in unincorporated areas of the county.
And Watters said census numbers are not necessarily tied to economic growth.