Liberty County’s population has grown by 21.1 percent since Census numbers were collected a decade ago, a jump to 91,628 residents in 2020 from 75,643 residents in 2010. That represents a numeric change of 15,985 additional residents of Liberty County.
The numbers were a bit of a surprise for County Judge Jay Knight who was expecting that population growth would push Liberty County past the 100,000-resident benchmark.
“I am not entirely sure we got an accurate count on our county’s population with the pandemic and a language barrier with some of our residents,” said Knight. “Not reaching the 100,000-resident mark is a mixed bag. While being a larger county could open up opportunities, it also would put us off in the world of unfunded mandates.”
Knight believes that the west side of the county, which has seen the most growth specifically in Plum Grove, Cleveland and Dayton, was underreported in the Census.
“Either the Census workers weren’t able to make it out there or the people didn’t respond by mail or Internet. Maybe the boots on the ground came to their location and the residents didn’t want to answer the door,” Knight said.
Liberty County Commissioners Court next will begin redistricting. With four road and bridge precincts, each will need to be divided into sections with an equal or similar number of residents – roughly 22,907 residents. Boundary lines for precincts will likely change with Pct. 3 and 4 shrinking in square mileage and Pct. 1 and 2 growing in square mileage.
“Here’s the weight that gets put into that equation – the more population in an area, the more road usage. The more land mass, like in Pct. 1 and 2, the less road usage overall,” Knight said.
The law firm of Bickerstaff, Heath, Delgado and Acosta LLP will guide the county through the redistricting process, said Knight.
“They actually have a computer program they use to help define the boundaries of the precincts. We will all sit in a meeting and move the precinct lines so that each commissioner will have an equal share of residents,” the judge added. “We still have to schedule a meeting with the law firm and then we will go from there.”
He anticipates that the redistricting process may push the primary election in 2022 from March to May.
“It’s been 10 years since we last did redistricting. There are generally lawsuits pertaining to redistricting on the state level and that slows down the overall process,” he said.
More definitive results from the Census are not yet available with the most recent information on households based on 2019 projections. Those projections estimate that the median household income of Liberty County residents is $51,494 with 14.4 percent of all residents living in poverty. Those projections also estimate the median home value at $111,600.
National numbers also reflect growth
According to the U.S. Census, “The 2020 Census shows that the resident population of the United States, including the 50 states and the District of Columbia, was 331,449,281 as of April 1, 2020, an increase of 7.4% since the 2010 Census.”
The population of U.S. metro areas grew by 9 percent from 2010 to 2020, resulting in 86 percent of the population living in U.S. metro areas in 2020, compared to 85 percent in 2010.
“Many counties within metro areas saw growth, especially those in the south and west. However, as we’ve been seeing in our annual population estimates, our nation is growing slower than it used to,” said Marc Perry, a senior demographer at the Census Bureau. “This decline is evident at the local level where around 52 percent of the counties in the United States saw their 2020 Census populations decrease from their 2010 Census populations.”
County and metro area highlights, as provided by the U.S. Census Bureau:
- The largest county in the United States in 2020 remains Los Angeles County with over 10 million people.
- The largest city (incorporated place) in the United States in 2020 remains New York with 8.8 million people.
- 312 of the 384 U.S. metro areas gained population between 2010 and 2020.
- The fastest-growing U.S. metro area between the 2010 Census and 2020 Census was The Villages, FL, which grew 39 percent from about 93,000 people to about 130,000 people.
- 72 U.S. metro areas lost population from the 2010 Census to the 2020 Census. The U.S. metro areas with the largest percentage declines were Pine Bluff, Ark., and Danville, Ill., at -12.5 percent and -9.1 percent, respectively.