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Census: More people moving out of Kansas than moving in

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, March 27, 2014, at 12:21 a.m.
  • Updated Thursday, March 27, 2014, at 8:57 p.m.

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More people have been leaving Kansas than moving here over the last four years, new Census figures show.

The state experienced a net loss of 10,197 people because of outward migration from 2010 through July 1, 2013, according to numbers released Thursday by the Census Bureau.

That number offsets a net gain of 9,830 people who migrated into the state from 2007 to 2009, Census numbers show.

Although the numbers seem at odds with Gov. Sam Brownback’s “Road Map for Kansas,” which aims to grow the state by improving the economy, Brownback’s spokeswoman Sara Belfry said Kansas’ population has declined for a long period of time. She said the new Census data doesn’t reflect the true impact of Brownback’s tax cuts, which went into effect in January 2013. Brownback took office in January 2011.

“The Governor has watched the population decline in Kansas throughout his lifetime,” Belfry wrote in an e-mail to The Eagle. “Since being elected, the Governor has worked hard to grow the Kansas economy and jobs. This U.S. Census report only reflects half of one year of the Governor’s tax cuts. Reversing the decades long de-population trend will take time, and we are happy with the growth Kansas has seen.”

Sedgwick County saw more people leave from 2010 to 2013 than any other county in the state, with a net loss of 5,236 people. Wyandotte and Shawnee counties each lost about 1,500 people to migration during that time.

Johnson County saw a net gain of 9,699 new residents over the same time period. Other big gainers were Riley County, with 1,588 new residents, and Douglas County, with 1,360.

The Census data confirms what many of Sedgwick County’s elected officials and business leaders already know. Although there is no data to confirm it, it’s natural to connect the county’s large job loss with an exit of people, wrote Tim Chase, president of the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition, in an email to The Eagle.

“Our region suffered greatly during the recession,” Chase said in the e-mail. “While there are signs of new momentum beginning to show, it will be several years before the data reflects much net improvement. During the recession the metro area shed over 32,000 jobs and we have regained approximately 7,000. People are forced to follow jobs.”

Area leaders are working to find new ways to rebuild the regional economy by growing primary jobs, Chase said.

“That’s what the Chamber and GWEDC work on every day,” he said. “We have had some success in adding new employment, but no one is satisfied with the current economy.”

The Census shows that Kansas gained 16,752 people from international migration over the last four years, but lost 26,949 to other states, resulting in the net 10,197 loss. Sedgwick County gained 2,136 people from other countries, but lost 7,372 to domestic migration.

The numbers don’t reveal any information about who left, or why.

“Domestic migration could be anything from retirees going to Florida to military service people being stationed somewhere else,” said Peter Haxton, coordinator of the State Data Center in the State Library of Kansas. “International migration could be anybody – international students coming to study at Wichita State, or people coming here to work from Mexico or India.”

Kansas was among the bottom 10 states in the number of people who moved in from other states compared with the number who moved out during the 12 months ending July 1, 2013. Kansas ended that 12 months with a net loss of 12,557. Colorado and Oklahoma, on the other hand, were in the top 10 states receiving people.

Other states in the bottom 10 were New York, California, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Connecticut.

Kansas and Sedgwick County gained in population during the last four years because their numbers of births were higher than the numbers of deaths plus the number of people who left. In Kansas, there were 129,453 births and 78,479 deaths, along with the net loss of 10,197 to migration. That resulted in a net increase of 40,777, raising the state’s population to 2,894,000.

“People appear to be migrating out, but are being replaced by births,” Haxton said.

Sedgwick County had 25,480 births in the past four years, and 13,226 deaths to go along with the 5,236 net loss to migration. That resulted in a net increase of 7,018 people, raising the county’s population to more than 505,400.

For the 10-year period from 2000 to 2009, the state had a net migration loss of 17,574. Most of it occurred during the five-year period from 2001 to 2005 when Kansas had a net loss of more than 27,000 people.

Contributing: Hurst Laviana of The Eagle

Reach Fred Mann at 316-268-6310 or fmann@wichitaeagle.com.

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