PINE BLUFF Pine Bluff’s population dipped below the 50,000 mark for the first time since the 1960s, according to the U.S. Census.
The city has lost more than 6,000 residents since 2000, down from 55,085 to 49,083, according to the federal 2010 Census report for Arkansas.
The amount of money cities receive each year from the government changes based on an official census count. Cities losing people will also lose dollars, while cities gaining people will get more money to help pay for streets and city services.
A city that has 50,000 in population is considered an entitlement city, meaning it receives, for example, annual community block development grant funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, officials have said.
It was unclear Thursday what effect the loss of population will have on Pine Bluff.
COUNTY DOWN 6,800
Jefferson County has lost more than 6,800 residents since 2000 and now reports a population of 77,435. That’s down from 84,278 residents in 2000.
Jefferson County Judge Mike Holcomb said the county’s population decline likely won’t affect state turn back dollars received each year.
The population decline also moves Pine Bluff from its spot as sixth-largest city in the state to ninth-largest. Pine Bluff first hit the 50,000 population mark during the 1960s, according to historic census figures.
The 1970 Census reported 57,400 residents, an all-time record for the city, up from 44,000 in 1960.
Phyllis Poche, the director of the state’s census data center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, said she had expected Pine Bluff to lose population because people and businesses had been moving out of the city over the past decade.
With the drop below the 50,000 population minimum, the city will also lose its metropolitan statistical area designation.
With a loss of population, “one year may not seem like a lot, but the census is a 100 percent count that funds are attached to occur over 10 years. So you multiply that by 10 and that’s a very significant amount for an area, in particular if they’re already losing. They need as much help as they can to try to rebound and increase their population,” Poche said.
A call left for Pine Bluff Mayor Carl Redus on Thursday afternoon was not returned.
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