This post is written by Jimmie Covington, veteran Memphis reporter with lengthy experience covering governmental, school, and demographic issues. He is a contributing writer with The Best Times, a monthly news magazine for active people 50 and older. This article was previously published there.
By Jimmie Covington
Recently released U.S. Census Bureau estimates indicate the number of people moving away from the entire nine-county Memphis metro area to other counties in the United States may be increasing significantly.
The figures, for July 1, 2015, show that since 2010, an estimated 30,467 residents had moved from the metropolitan area to counties elsewhere in the nation. Estimates reported a year ago showed the domestic migration loss for the area from 2010 to July 1, 2014, was 21,999.
It should be emphasized that these figures are estimates and are not actual population counts so the numbers could be significantly off the mark. However, people familiar with census estimates say they are pretty good at reflecting trends although caution should be used when considering numbers for a single year.
As has been usual in recent decades, the biggest domestic migration loss has been in Shelby County. The estimates report, released March 24, show that Shelby County had a loss to domestic migration of 29,285. The loss for 2000 to 2014, reported a year ago, was 21,057.
Since census population counts in recent decades have consistently reflected growth in population in Shelby County outside Memphis while the city’s population has declined, it is considered likely that all of the loss from migration has been in Memphis. The 2015 estimates for cities and towns will be released in the next few months.
Despite the losses to movement to other areas, the populations of the overall metro area and most parts of the metro area have continued to grow as a result of the natural increase of births exceeding deaths.
Growth has continued strong in DeSoto County from more people moving into the county than moving away as well as from more births than deaths. However, unlike the decade of 2000 to 2010, DeSoto County has not been the fastest growing county in Mississippi so far this decade and has dropped out of the 100 fastest growing counties in the nation.
The title on both counts has shifted to Lafayette County (Oxford). The latest estimates report shows Lafayette as the 67th fastest growing county in the county – with a growth rate of 12.2 percent since 2010. The DeSoto growth rate since 2010 has been 7.5 percent.
In the Memphis area, the estimates report on domestic migration shows only DeSoto County (1,420), Tate County (122) and Fayette County (100) had a net gain of residents from other U.S. counties from 2014 to 2015.
According to the estimates, the overall population of the nine county area grew from 1,342,914 in 2014 to 1,344,127 in 2015. Despite the growth, the Memphis area dropped from 41st to 42nd in size among the nation’s metro areas as the Oklahoma City area moved ahead of Memphis. The Memphis area had 1,324,829 residents at the time of the 2010 census.
The Memphis area was 36th in 1950 and 41st in 2010.
The Nashville area, which was 55th in size in 1950 and 37th in 2010, is now 36th. The Nashville area grew from 1,793,910 in 2014 to 1,830,345 in 2015. Its population was 1,670,896 in 2010.
Here are the 2015 population estimates for the Memphis area counties (with the 2014 numbers in parentheses):
Shelby, 938,069 (938,405)
DeSoto, 173,323 (170,886)
Crittenden, 48,963 (49,558)
Tipton, 61,870 (61,812)
Fayette, 39,165 (38,989)
Marshall, 35,916 (36,191)
Tate, 28,296 (28,206)
Tunica, 10,343 (10,545)