City, county lose people in new census stats

Published 12:03 pm Friday, February 4, 2011

Vicksburg and Warren County saw drops in population during the past 10 years, and the number of Hispanics and Asians soared, according to U.S. Census figures released Thursday.

The countywide population slipped 1.75 percent in the past decade, to 48,773. Significant spikes were found in seven of eight ethnic groups counted, with those claiming Hispanic or Latino origins jumping more than 42 percent since 2000.

The number of whites fell 10 percent, to 24,548, while blacks rose 6.4 percent, to 22,920. The Asian population grew 26 percent, to 413. People who reported a biracial background went up 23 percent, to 424.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Inside the City of Vicksburg, the population was 23,856 — down 9.7 percent in 10 years. Housing units fell 8.8 percent, to 10,992 compared to the last census. Vacant residential structures rose nearly 16 percent, to 1,535.

“This is the true picture of the demographics here,” said Marie Thompson, the city’s policy and intergovernmental relations official, who is Hispanic and chaired a local committee of various local public and private sector officials tasked with getting the word out to the community when census forms were mailed last spring.

Thompson said increased emphasis on linguistics in area schools was one early sign of the upward movement, and more needs to be done to encourage businesses and local governments to require a certified translator.

“Spanish is the language of today — Mandarin Chinese is the language of the future,” Thompson said.

Statewide, the population grew 4 percent since 2000 — enough to avoid losing a congressional seat this time as in the last count. Each shift affects federal funding for a multitude of projects and entities, from infrastructure and social programs to certain types of tax revenue distribution. A joint committee of both chambers of the Mississippi Legislature will convene to break down the data so county and city governments can redraw voting districts. From there, any changes involving minority voting strength must be OK’d by the Department of Justice.

Hinds County remained the state’s most populous, at 245,285, down 2.2 percent for the decade. Sharper declines in other neighboring counties could figure into changes in district lines for local legislators.

Sharkey County’s population plummeted 25 percent in the past decade, to 4,916. Issaquena County’s fell further, to 1,406, or 38 percent fewer people than reported in the 2000 count. The totals reflect low rates of returning census forms — 50 percent for Sharkey and 37 percent for Issaquena, compared to 71 percent for Warren. All or part of both counties are in districts held by Vicksburg-area state lawmakers, state Rep. Alex Monsour and state Sen. Briggs Hopson III, both Republicans. Claiborne County also decreased in population, to 9,604, down 18.8 percent from 2000. All of Claiborne is in House District 85, represented by Rep. Chuck Middleton, D-Port Gibson, though the district picks up parts of three precincts in southeast Warren County.

Housing starts statistics typically figure into business recruitment, though small “micropolitan” areas such as Vicksburg and Warren County often fit into a larger regional map when companies inquire about projects large and small, said Wayne Mansfield, executive director of the Warren County Port Commission and the Warren County Economic Development Foundation.

“That small decrease won’t have any bearing,” Mansfield said of the updated overall population. “They look at labor forces through the region.”