This past week, the Wall Street Journal printed an article which contained a list of the fastest growing "micropolitan" communities in the country. A micropolitan is defined as a single county centered on a city with 10,000 to 50,000 residents. There are 576 in the U.S. with a combined population of 31 million.
The micropolitan data is interpreted in two different ways. According to the Wall Street Journal, Statesboro is the sixth largest in population percentage growth for July 1, 2010 - July 1, 2011 with 3.8 percent growth.
However, according to bizjournals.com, Statesboro was listed as the fifth fastest growing micropolitan in the country for that same period as its ranking is based on the number of people per day added to the community. According to the publication, Dunn, N.C., was ranked number one adding 9.5 residents per day.
Second on the list is Daphne-Fairhope, Ala. Third is The Villages, Fla., followed by Seaford, Del., and then Statesboro.
During the measurement period referenced above, it is estimated by the Census Bureau that the population of Statesboro was increasing by six residents per day.
Two different takes, virtually the same ranking. I did a little research to see how other Georgia micropolitans ranked overall in growth for the same period using the number of people added each day as the benchmark.
Tifton is ranked 21, Lagrange - 59, Calhoun - 81, and Cordele - 114. Statesboro far exceeded their numbers.
In examining the four communities in front of Statesboro on the bizjournals.com listing, we are the only one with a large university. Dunn benefits from its proximity to the North Carolina research triangle. Daphne-Fairhope is on the Alabama coast. The Villages is a massive retirement community. And, Seaford is contained in the largest micropolitan area in the country.
Is our rate of growth a good thing or a bad thing? If it is Georgia Southern students and related staff, clearly, that is a good thing. However, the university's growth is less than the overall growth numbers cited here.
What is concerning is the following: In November 2011, of the 31 cities in Georgia with more than 25,000 residents, Statesboro's unemployment rate of 10.8 percent was 12th worst of the 31. Unemployment numbers just released for November 2012 show that our unemployment rate has risen to 3rd worst at 11.5 percent.
While it may be flattering to be mentioned in the likes of the Wall Street Journal, one must ask if our community can support the population growth that is happening.
Are there jobs for the people that are moving here?
These numbers really, really make me wonder.
So, until next Tuesday, I bid you au revoir.
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