Home Census Athol Daily News – Census results show slight decline in county population

Athol Daily News – Census results show slight decline in county population

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Franklin and Berkshire counties could be the focus of parliamentary and legislative redistribution conversations this fall due to population changes shown in the 2020 U.S. Census.

State Representative Paul Mark, who played an important role in promoting census participation last year, said on Friday that he was finally happy with the results of the 2020 data. He said that the data “fuller” are expected to be shared on September 30, and discussions on the redistribution could follow in October.

“I was very happy to see that Greenfield has shown some growth, that the decline in Franklin County was less than we expected and that the statewide numbers are much better than we thought. “said Mark, D-Peru. “Especially with COVID, there was a real fear that the numbers in Amherst, Cambridge and Boston would be much lower because of student populations essentially evacuating. It appears that schools and communities have done as effective a job as possible to ensure that they have an accurate count of the student population. ”

While the population of Massachusetts has increased, the size of Berkshire and Franklin counties has actually decreased since 2010. Berkshire County has seen an approximately 1.7% decrease in population since 2010, and Franklin County experienced a decrease of 0.5%. These population changes could have a noticeable impact on legislative representation in Congress and states. Districts of Congress will need to be redesigned to maintain a population of 781,000 in the district – an increase from the previously required 727,000.

Mark said the implications for the redistribution based on population changes “are quite serious”.

“We have a county of about 71,000 people that needs to fit into several representative districts, several senatorial districts and maybe several congressional districts,” Mark said. “The trick here is how do we maximize the voice of our county residents in Boston and Washington? … As we look into the future, however, the region – Franklin County and western Massachusetts – we really need to take advantage of whatever we can do to ensure that by the 2030 census , we’ll show some kind of growth. ”

Mark said it was important for Franklin County to focus on “what makes us unique, what makes us special, and what makes us an attractive place for people to move or stay.”

“While I would like the census, the way it works, not to be this competition over who might attract the most people, there is an element of that,” said Mark. “And while we don’t want the nature of our community to change, we need to keep growing and building towards the future. ”

Mark also recognized a number of people who moved to counties in western Massachusetts from metropolitan areas during the COVID-19 pandemic, after census results began to be collected.

About half of the cities in Franklin County and the North Quabbin area saw their populations decline, with the largest drop, 7.25%, being in Conway.

Conway’s population has declined by 136, a number the city plans to dispute with the US Census Bureau. Selection committee member Philip Kantor noted that federal and state funding allocations are determined by the number of populations and that it will be “pretty catastrophic”

“When you have a 7.2% drop in population, it correlates with a similar drop in government revenue,” Kantor said. “It’s very unfortunate. If the number holds, it is not good for the financial future of the city.

He said city officials are collecting data so they can present a compelling case to the federal government.

“There is no one in town in city government who thinks this number is correct,” Kantor said. “We understand that sitting down with the Census Bureau with only our thoughts and opinions is not going to get us very far. ”

Kantor said he believed the limitations of postal codes and the method of counting could be the cause of the sharp decline in the population.

“We have about 100 or more families in Conway, although they live within the city limits, their zip code is in a nearby town,” Kantor said. “One of the faults of the system is its inability to recognize it from afar.”

He noted that the census is a massive undertaking for the government and that mistakes are quite possible.

“We can see how very complicated, very nuanced and very complex the job of calculating the population is,” Kantor said. “We can see how mistakes can be made without bad intention. … People try to do their best.

The largest local population increase would have been in Wendell, with a 9% increase in population.

However, Wendell Town Clerk Anna Wetherby said that may have changed since the census data was collected. According to that data, Wendell reported a population of 924, an increase from 848 in 2010, but Wetherby said it was possible that its population is currently closer to 905.

“People have left town and we have had several deaths over the past year,” Wetherby said. “Back when they were doing the census, it was probably a good guess.”

She said it was possible the population decline since the census was linked to the wave of home sales across the country. Wetherby said there were a notable number of vacant homes in Wendell.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at [email protected] or 413-930-4579. Chris Larabee can be reached at [email protected] or 413-930-4081.


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