On Wednesday, September 14th, the Ada Jobs Foundation presented an update on the changes to the Decennial Census Data from 2010 to 2020 to the Ada Rotary Club.
We stressed three points during the presentation:
I.Slow Growth “Regime”
Pontotoc County grew by 573 people or only 1.5% in the last decade to a total of 38,065 and this matches a long-term trend of slow yet steady growth. However, Pontotoc County was one of only 27 Oklahoma Counties that grew between 2010 to 2020, despite being a net-exporter of talent. Similar to economic growth regimes, this slow growth in our population presents a kind of “regime” related to the challenges we will face in terms of having an adequate tax base for schools, public services, and infrastructure maintenance. We expect these challenges in this slow growth “regime” will persist over a long period of time and will demand creative approaches to planning and economic development.
II. Pontotoc County is Becoming More Diverse
From 2010 to 2020, Pontotoc County’s residents are more diverse, with almost twice as many people identifying as being two races or more and over 600 more people identifying as “American Indian and Alaska Native alone.” The percentage of people identifying as “White alone” dropped by 10% to being 61% of the population.
This would seem to match larger population trends for the region and nation-wide, and it bolsters our approach to ensure our economic development and entrepreneurship work is inclusive and representative of our region.
III. Housing is a Critical Issue
More housing was constructed in Pontotoc County over the last decade, but it still may not be enough to satisfy demand. The total number of housing units increased by 811 to a total of 17,406 housing units from 2010 to 2020. This represents a growth of about 4.8%.
However, this rate is slower than the housing unit growth rate of 6.5% from 2000 to 2010. And while the housing rate appears to be outpacing the population growth rate, there is a possible dampening effect on people who might live in Pontotoc County but are unable to find adequate housing options. According to the US Census ‘On the Map’ website, the number of people commuting from over 50 miles away to a job in Pontotoc County increased from 4,309 people in 2010 to 5,473 people in 2019, a 4% increase in the total share of those working in the county. The total number of people employed in Pontotoc County increased by 1,128 workers from 2012 to 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages.
While the 811 new housing units is significant, this figure is not enough to fully house the new workers added to Pontotoc County over the last decade. Nor does this figure account for the rate of owner occupancy, housing condition, and market level for these new housing units. We estimate that Pontotoc County is already short 350 housing units to match job growth trends and more workers may require an even greater rate of new housing created over the coming decade.