Columbus carries the Buckeye State in terms of growth and economic well-being.
Driving the news: The increase in factors such as population, workers, household income, and home values in our metro area has far exceeded all other regions in Ohio between 2000 and 2020, per a report from the Greater Ohio Policy Center.
Why is this important: While Columbus is Ohio’s MVP, he skews statewide statistics that overshadow a stagnant and aging population.
- This leads to a “Tale of Two States” – also the title of the report.
- Appearances can be deceiving. Ohio’s overall population increased by 3% over the two-decade period. But with the Columbus metropolitan area removed, the state actually saw a net loss of 1% — or about 100,000 residents, according to census data.
- This means fewer workers. Ohio’s labor force shrank by 91,000 workers, while central Ohio gained 215,000.
- Incomes are lagging in all areas. Our median household income was $65,044 in 2020, an increase of 50%, while all other metropolises only increased by 38%. Both still trail a national average of 55%.
👀 Mind-blowing stat: If Columbus’ population growth between 2000 and 2020 was its own city — with 177,600 residents — it would be the sixth largest in the state, just behind Dayton.
Enlarge: All areas outside of Columbus have seen a steep population decline among those under 54.
The context: A changing economy explains most of this geographic disparity. Most Ohioans live in a “legacy town” built around a manufacturing sector that peaked years ago.
- These 22 cities — ranging in size from Cleveland to Chillicothe — are characterized by aging residents, marginal demographic change and slow income growth.
- Central Ohio, on the other hand, is bucking the trend due to recent development and a labor market centered around education, healthcare, technology, and government services.
- Legacy cities “are home to a significant concentration of jobs, residents, and anchor institutions that positively impact the state’s economy” and policies should be tailored to their specific needs, the report says.
And after: The authors of the study recommend improving municipal services, modernizing historic infrastructure and zoning, promoting development through subsidies and investing in public transport.