Mississippi is one of only three states to lose population in the past decade, according to the newly-released 2020 Census results. The decline was not large in absolute terms (6,000 people, or about 0.2%), but it was significant. The Southeastern region grew by more than 10%, the fastest rate in the country, led by booming Texas, Florida, and Georgia. Yet even laggards Arkansas and Louisiana added more than 100,000 people. Mississippi is the lone outlier.
Here are other takeaways from the data:
- Most counties are losing population. Some catastropically. Of Mississippi’s 82 counties, 64 (78%) lost population. The state’s most urban county, Hinds, lost 17,543 people, the most of any county, while two of the most rural counties, Quitman (-25%) and Sharkey (-23%), lost the greatest share of residents. Nearly 30% of the state’s counties rank in the bottom 10% nationally in population growth rate. Hinds shrank faster than any county in the country with more than 150,000 people.
- Growth pockets exist, but are limited. Only 4 counties rank within the top 10% nationally for growth rate. Lafayette Co. led the state with an 18% gain, good for 152nd nationally. Suburban DeSoto Co. gained the most overall residents, with 24,062, followed by coastal Harrison Co. (21,516), then suburban Rankin Co. (15,414) and Madison Co. (13,942).
- Metro areas are growing modestly. The Jackson metropolitan area grew by 1%, even though the capital city itself lost 15,000 people. However, in a decade when metro areas grew by 9% nationally, the Jackson region experienced the slowest growth of any area larger than 500,000 people. The Gulfport-Biloxi region grew by 7.1%, good for 160th out of 384 metro areas nationwide, and Hattiesburg grew by 6%. Greater Memphis grew by only 1.6%, although the suburbs in Mississippi fared much better.
- Mid-sized towns are struggling. Mississippi has 19 micropolitan areas, comprising the regions anchored by towns of 10,000-50,000 people. Of the 19, 14 lost population in the last decade — and 9 (47%) fell in the bottom 10% of growth among micro areas across the country. The only brights spots were the college towns of Oxford and Starkville, which grew by 17.9% and 6.5%, respectively. Oxford grew 12th-fastest among 543 micropolitan regions in the country. However, no other mid-sized Mississippi towns grew faster than the national micro area growth rate of 1%.