Population in central Ohio grew during pandemic, but not in Franklin County

It took a once-in-a-century pandemic to halt Franklin County’s population boom, if only briefly.

  • New US Census data shows the county’s lost population between April 2020 and July 2021.

Why is this important: The latest data shows growth throughout the central Ohio region outside of downtown Columbus.

By the numbers: Franklin County’s population decreased by 0.2%, or about 2,600.

  • All other neighboring counties grew in population during this period.
  • The biggest winners? Union and Delaware counties, which grew 3.5% and 3.1%, respectively.

State of play: Franklin County still saw thousands of new residents moving in, but its year-over-year population loss comes from more people moving outside during the pandemic.

  • The county also recorded nearly 1,500 coronavirus deaths during that time, although it was still among the few counties in Ohio that recorded more births than deaths.

Yes, but: This is almost certainly a blow amid the region’s long-term growth, which is still expected to reach a population of 3 million by 2050. according to the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission.

  • Franklin County has not experienced a population decline in the past decade, according to census data from 2010.

The big picture: Other major cities like Nashville and Chicago also saw population declines between 2020 and 2021 as workers took advantage of work-from-home arrangements and cheaper communities.

What they say: Franklin County should return to a net positive population gain this year, says Michael Wilkos, United Way of Ohio senior vice president who studies population and demographic trends.

  • “It’s a huge change,” he told Axios. “But I’m sure it’s temporary and entirely (due) to the events of the past two years.”
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