JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Arkansas' 2010 Census numbers were released Thursday showing significant population shifts from rural areas to the state's larger cities. Craighead County along with several counties in Northwest and Central Arkansas saw significant population increases.
Jonesboro is the fifth most populated city in Arkansas with 67,263, up 21.2% from 2000 when the city had 55,515. Paragould grew 18.6% from the city's 22,017 2000 Census to 26,113 in 2010. Craighead County saw an increase in population from 82.148 in 2000 to 96,443 in 2010. Greene County also had an increase in population in the 10 year period, up 12.7% to 42,090 in 2010 compared to 37,331 in 2000.
While Craighead and Greene Counties saw significant increases in population, Mississippi County saw just the opposite. The county lost 5,499 people during the 10 year period according to the U.S. Census Bureau to 46,480 in 2010 compared to 51,979 in 2010. Other counties in the Mississippi River delta saw significant declines in population including Lee, Phillips, Monroe, Desha, Woodruff and Chicot Counties. The largest increase in population was in Benton and Faulkner Counties.
Numbers released Thursday by the federal Census Bureau put Pine Bluff's population at 49,083 people, down from 55,085 in 2000. The decline also drops the city from sixth-largest in the state to ninth-largest. The Census Bureau says Little Rock's population grew from 183,133 in 2000 to 193,524 in the year 2010. Fort Smith remains the second-largest city in the state, growing from a population of 80,628 in 2000 to 86,209 in 2010.
The U.S. Constitution spells out the U.S. Census Bureau's duty to collect a population count every ten years. The numbers are used to determine seat apportionment in the U.S. House of Representatives. While Arkansas has been fortunate to split Congressional Districts by counties, the population spread in 2010 will likely mean some counties will be split into two Congressional Districts. Now that the Secretary of State's office has the official Census numbers, it can now start the task of determining who is represented among Arkansas' four U.S. Representatives.
Secretary of State Mark Martin said in a news release, "Having these census numbers in hand is a necessary first step in the reapportionment process. While we are in the preliminary stages, I do welcome an initial meeting with Governor Beebe and Attorney General McDaniel to share input on re-drawing state legislative districts. We will soon release information on hearings to gather public comment from people across the state."
On the web:
U.S. Census Bureau news release with county by county population maps
U.S. Census Bureau
Arkansas Secretary of State
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