Census shows demographic changes

Published 12:08 am Sunday, February 13, 2011

VIDALIA — The Miss-Lou population drop in the last decade has contributed to a changing face of the community as well.

The Census 2010 numbers released so far show shifts in the age and race of the population in Adams County and Concordia Parish.

In Adams County — which decreased in population by approximately 2,000 residents — the percentages of residents over 18 and black residents have increased.

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Recent census numbers show that 74.6 percent of the population is 18 or older, while the number was 72.2 in 2000.

Though data showing the breakdown of just how old those residents are isn’t yet available, local leaders say they anticipate it will show that the percentage of residents over 50 is higher.

Supervisors President Darryl Grennell said the shift toward an older population is something he and the board have noticed for a while now.

“What we see is that when young people go off to college and they finish, the return rate is very low,” he said. “Specialized, skilled jobs are not as available here as they are in bigger cities.”

Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis agreed, saying if there are no jobs in an area, residents leave.

“Natchez has been declared a retirement community by some people which is fine, but we still need to find a way to recruit younger people to the area,” she said. “You can’t just have the babies and the older people. The babies grow up and leave and the older people do too, just not in the same way.”

Arceneaux-Mathis said in order to get more young people in the area, the county is going to have to put in some work.

“If you want your community to thrive and continue, you have to find out what we have that we do better than anyone else to draw companies to us,” she said. “What would be a job draw that would keep young people here and make them want to live and raise a family here?”

But Mayor Jake Middleton said he has seen an increase in the number of young people moving back to town in just the last few years.

“I have not only seen this on the streets of Natchez, but also in my church,” he said. “The church used to be an older congregation, but recently I have seen a lot of young professionals attending church. I have seen a lot more people coming home.”

At the same time, the population of black residents in the county is increasing, numbers show.

In 2000, black residents made up 52.8 percent of the county’s population, while white residents made up 46 percent.

Due to the higher drop in white residents, black residents now make up 53.5 percent while white residents make up 42.7 percent.

In 2000, there were 15,809 white residents in Adams County. Ten years later, the number dropped by 2,016 to 13,793.

The black population dropped also, from 18,117 to 17,287.

The shift in the racial makeup of the county has been less noticeable, leaders said.

“This community has been a multi-racial community for a long time,” Arceneaux-Mathis said. “We have seen groups be higher or lower at different times, and I just don’t see this making a difference in the area.”

No other ethnicity declined in the county.

The Hispanic or Latino population increased the most, from 259 residents to 2,150. The census considers Hispanic or Latino an ethnicity, not a race, so those counted as Hispanics may be counted in the other races.

The American Indian and Alaska native population increase by 55 residents from 49 to 104.

The Asian population increased by 42 residents from 85 to 127.

The category of “some other race” also increased by 332 residents from 204 to 536.

The total number of housing units and occupied housing units in Adams County both declined from 2000.

The total number of units dropped by 519 units from 15,175 to 14,656.

The total number of occupied housing units dropped from 13,677 to 12,643, a decline of 1,034 units.

While both previous numbers decreased, the number of vacant houses in Adams County increased by 515 from 1,498 to 2,013.

Concordia Parish

Only slight changes in the parish population left little room for demographic shifts, though there were slight variations.

Concordia as a whole gained 575 residents, increasing from 20,247 to 20,822.

The total number of parish residents 18 years of age or older increased from 14,622 in 2000 to 15,589 residents in 2010.

The percentage of residents over 18 increased from 72.2 percent to 74.9 percent.

Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland said a lack of jobs is also a factor in the lack of residents under 18.

“We need to concentrate on getting new businesses and working with existing ones,” he said. “We can’t afford to lose anymore businesses or anymore of or population. This is a wake-up call.”

Ferriday Mayor Glen McGlothin said an aging population is something he has noticed in this area for a long time.

“That is what I have been seeing around here, especially in Ferriday,” he said. “You see the population getting older in smaller towns that just don’t have the jobs available.”

McGlothin said the lack of jobs has even affected his family, as two of his children have moved to larger cities to find jobs.

Copeland said the parish is going to have to focus on industry if it wants to change anything.

“If anything comes out of these numbers it is that we have to work extremely hard to bring new businesses and work with our existing ones,” he said.

Racially, Concordia Parish saw an increase in the number of black residents.

The black population in the parish rose by 876 people from 7,637 people in 2000 to 8,513 in 2010.

The population of white residents in the parish decreased by 341 residents from 12,300 in 2000 to 11,959 residents in 2010.

Subtracting the decrease in the white population from the increase in the black population gives the parish an increase of 535 residents, 40 short of the 575 that the parish gained.

The 40 residents in the parish came from an increase in the Asian, American Indian and Alaska native and “two or more races” demographics.

The Asian population rose from 48 to 65. The Native American and Alaska native population rose from 33 to 49, and residents whose ethnic background consists of two or more races rose from 117 to 179.

Aside from the white population, the category of “some other race” was the only population group to lose population. It went from 111 residents in 2000 to 53 in 2010.

Concordia Parish also saw a decline in the Hispanic population from 300 in 2000 to 209 in 2010.

McGlothin and Copeland both said they believed the increase in the black population can be attributed to the relocation of hurricane victims.

“I do know we had a pretty good influx of refugees from the storm,” McGlothin said. “I wasn’t sure if they all stayed, but apparently a good number of them did.”

Copeland said he also believed the hurricanes forced many residents, specifically black ones, to relocate to Concordia Parish.

“You can attribute a lot of the shift to Katrina, Rita and Gustav,” he said.

The number of total housing units and total occupied housing units increased in Concordia, but so did the number of vacant houses.

The total number of housing units rose by 235, from 9,148 in 2000 to 9,383 in 2010.

There were 92 more occupied houses, rising from 7,521 to 7,613.

There were 143 more vacant houses in 2010, rising from 1,627 to 1,770. This marked an increase of 51 more vacant houses compared to occupied houses in 2010 from 2000.