Census aside, these faces smile back

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 18, 2001

Look around your neighborhood. Do the folks up and down the street look and act the same as you? If so, you live in a fairly average American setting. The 2000 Census statistics are providing extraordinary and fascinating snapshots of our country, and of course we particularly like to read about the &uot;most&uot; and the &uot;least&uot; numbers.

If you’re a man looking for a large pool of women from whom to choose a wife, you might consider Pulaski, Ga., for example. In all the nation, there is the highest ratio of women to men in that little Southern town.

On the other hand, if you’re a woman with the same hopes for many men for the picking, you should think about Crowley, Colo., where the highest ratio of men to women exists in the United States.

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A surprising place jumps out in numbers on older folks. With the extreme winters we envision in a state such as North Dakota, it’s a shock to find that McIntosh, N.D., has the largest percentage of people over the age of 75.

King, Texas, takes the prize for having the largest percentage of households headed by married couples. And if you’re a married couple with young children – 18 or under, that is – you would be right at home in these cities, where the percentages of such families rank from about 42 of the population to almost 55 percent of the population: Franklin, Idaho; Starr, Texas; and Chattahoochee, Ga.

Likewise, if you simply want to have young neighbors, married or not, you might choose Wade Hampton, Alaska, where the median age is about 20; Todd, S.D., where the median age is about 21; or Harrisonburg City, Va., where the average age of the population is about 22.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that New York City’s Manhattan has the second lowest percentage of married couples with young children; on the other hand, neighboring Bronx ranks near the top with households headed by single mothers.

In our own town of Natchez and the rest of Adams County outside the city limits, changes during the past several decades have not been drastic ones. In a way, we have been a typical small town in that regard.

As has been the case for generations, the city is just about split down the middle black and white by race. However, Natchez now boasts other races, such as Asian Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Hispanic and Vietnamese. Women slightly outnumber men, at 53.7 percent to 46.3 percent. The median age is 38, and, surprising for many – those who think we are a seriously graying community – the largest group of people in Natchez are between the ages of 25 and 55. About 30 percent of our population range in age from infant to 19. By type, the households in our town and county include 68.8 family households; 31.8 percent with children under 18; and 12.5 percent single-mother households.

Perhaps a big difference between today’s population in Natchez and the people who lived here 100 years ago is the size of the family. Our town is fairly typical of the national picture, with the average household size at 2.48 people and the average family size at 3.03.

Numbers capture the imagination. Then we think of the family down the street or across town and we think of our own family. We consider where our church friends fit into the picture and how our fellow workers round out the numbers. And in the end, the faces we put with the numbers put heart into the Census statistics. With those, we can smile and be thankful we live in a town where most folks are likely to smile back at us.

Joan Gandy, special projects director, can be reached at 445-3549 or via e-mail, joan.gandy@natchezdemocrat.com.