Study projects population growth in area

Friday, August 5, 2016

Dodge City, Kan.

Ford and Gray counties are expected to see population growth in the 50-year span from 2014 to 2064 — the only western Kansas counties expected to do so.

According to a study released by the Center of Economic Development and Business Research, part of the W. Frank Barton School of Business at Wichita State University, Ford and Gray counties are two of the 20 counties expected to see population growth. The other 85 counties are expected to see a population decline, despite the state’s estimated 21.8 percent increase overall.

The Kansas population of 2,904,321 in 2014 is expected to increase to 3,538,277 by 2064.

Only four counties west of Wichita are expected to grow. Those counties — Comanche, Ellis, Ford and Gray — are all projected to see a slight growth up to 45.2 percent.

In contrast, Clark, Kiowa and Haskell counties are expected to see a decline of 59.3 to 94.2 percent in the 50 years.

"The reason Ford and Gray counties are projected to see growth is the age of the population is younger than the other western, rural counties," said Mike Busch of the Center of Economic Development and Business Research and author of the forecast. "These counties also show less migration, which results in expected growth."

The study shows metropolitan areas of the state and some eastern Kansas counties will see the most population growth. Larger cities such as Wichita and Kansas City, Kansas, will hold 80 percent of the state’s population by 2064.

One of the interesting projections made by the study is by 2034 the number of Kansas residents older than 65 will outnumber the population of residents under the age of 18 for the first time in state history.

The reason for this is the declining birth rate across Kansas and the longer life expectancy for those older than 65.

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