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Douglas County's population grows by more than 1,000 during past year; update on Lawrence Public Library project timeline
Today is one of those days when I love statistics, and not just because all the math gives me an excuse to take off my shoes. Today, statistics help remind me that all is right in the world again. A pair of reports show that Lawrence and Kansas once again are faring better than the M&M's: Manhattan and Missouri.
Report No. 1 is from the Census Bureau, and it shows that Douglas County had a decent year in terms of population growth in 2013. Douglas County added 1,279 people from July 2012 to July 2013. In terms of total number of people, that was the third-highest total out of the state's 105 counties. The Census Bureau estimates the county has a population of 114,322 people.
The county's growth rate checked in at 1.1 percent, which was the 11th best growth rate in the state for 2013. Let's be clear: Historically, that is not a real good number for Douglas County. During the 1980s, Douglas County averaged 2 percent growth per year. During the 1990s, the average growth rate was 2.2 percent per year.
But those were different times, and it is important to note that Douglas County's growth rate is still a heck of a lot better than the state's as a whole. The Census Bureau estimates the entire state added just 8,559 people during the 12-month period. That's a growth rate of 0.3 percent.
As for Manhattan, well the numbers show that Riley County — which includes Manhattan — lost 636 people during the time period. That was the second largest population loss in the state. The largest, in case you are wondering, was Geary County, with a loss of 873 people.
Geary County is right next to Riley County and is home to Fort Riley. It is probably safe to assume both Riley County's and Geary County's population changes were affected by changes at the fort. Both communities are used to population swings that are far greater than Douglas County experiences. So, I'll leave it to someone else to determine whether those numbers are really that concerning. I'm mainly just taking my shots at Manhattan while I can. After all, we are now closer to football season than we are to basketball season.
Here's a look at the five counties that added the largest number of people over the past 12 months.
— Johnson County: 7,097 people (1.3 percent growth rate)
— Sedgwick County: 1,977 people (0.4 percent)
— Douglas County: 1,279 people (1.1 percent)
— Wyandotte County: 1,209 people (0.8 percent)
— Leavenworth County: 475 people (0.6 percent)
The way I'm reading this data: Of the urban counties in the state, Lawrence had the second fastest growth rate in the group. That's not bad. It is not what it used to be, but still not bad.
In case you are wondering which county had the fastest growth rate in the state, well, get ready to invest all your money in the economic boom known as . . . Wallace County. It had a growth rate of 2.5 percent. It added 39 people.
Report No. 2 focuses on Kansas and our neighboring states. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis recently released its report on 2013 per capita income for all the states. In other words, this is the report that shows how rich we are compared with other states (kind of, to use a highly technical economic phrase.)
Kansas saw its personal income grow by 2.4 percent, which wasn't quite as good as the national average of 2.6 percent. So, we didn't exactly keep up with the Joneses in 2013.
But surely you have figured out by now that the key to feeling good about yourself is to find somebody you are better than. In the Plains region, there was only one state that Kansas clearly outperformed: Missouri. The Show Me State checked in with a 2.3 percent growth rate. Kansas also had a higher growth rate than South Dakota, which checked in at 1.8 percent. South Dakota had the lowest growth rate among the seven states in the Plains Region, but more on why I decided to pick on Missouri in a moment.
Kansas average per capita income was $43,916 in 2013, which is about 1 percent less than the national average. Kansas was one of only two states in the Plains region that had a per capita income that was below the national average. Missouri was the other. While Kansas was 1 percent below, Missouri was 10 percent below the national average. All joking aside, Missouri appears to have some issues to consider when it comes to income and wages.
None of us, however, are North Dakota. These numbers confirmed to me that there are only two forms of recreation in North Dakota: growing things (money, it appears) and drilling either an oil or gas well in your front yard. Income growth in North Dakota was 7.6 percent, tops in the nation. And North Dakota now has the second highest per capita income in the nation. It is $57,084, or 28 percent above the national average.
Anyway, my feet are getting cold, so I'm going to end my mathematical exercises by showing you how Kansas compared with the other states in the Plains region:
— Iowa: $45,114 per capita income, up 3.2 percent
— Kansas: $43,916 per capita income, up 2.4 percent
— Minnesota: $47,856 per capita income, up 2.8 percent
— Missouri: $39,897 per capita income, up 2.3 percent
— Nebraska: $46,033 per capita income, up 3.0 percent
— North Dakota: $57,084 per capita income, up 7.6 percent
— South Dakota: $45,558 per capita income, up 1.8 percent
In other news and notes from around town:
• If you have driven by the construction site of the Lawrence Public Library expansion, you'll notice that building is starting to really take shape. The library is scheduled to move back into the space at Seventh and Vermont streets, this summer, but we never have gotten a real firm date from the city on when.
Well, there are now some indications that it will be late summer. City commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting are set to approve an extension of the lease the city has to temporarily locate the library in the former Borders building at Seventh and New Hampshire streets.
Originally, the city had planned for that lease to end May 31. But staff members now are recommending the library extend the lease through July 31 to give the library more time to make the move into the new facility.
In case you are wondering how much it costs to rent a temporary library, the city pays $11,690 per month for the building.