HARRISON COUNTY—The 2020 Census results released last week, and as feared and possibly expected, the population dropped in many counties in the Ohio Valley, including Harrison County. But for overall Ohio, though, the population rose by more than 200,000 (2.3%).

With 36 people per square mile, Harrison County dropped in population by 1,381; an 8.7% decline caused a drop below 15,000 compared to 2010.

“I won’t pretend I’m qualified enough to dispute the census, but there’s no question our numbers are greater considering the transient worker population,” Harrison County commissioner Don Bethel explained. “The fact is that Harrison County is still attracting/retaining our own homegrown qualified youth who remain here or return after leaving to acquire secondary education, which hasn’t been the norm here for decades.” Bethel called it a positive sign for the county’s growth “and viability as a county.” 

Only one surrounding county, Tuscarawas, with 164.4 people per square mile, saw a rise in population: 92,582 in 2010 and 93,263 in 2020 (a 0.7% increase). With 159.9 people per square mile, Jefferson County dropped by 6.4% to 65,249 compared to 69,709 in 2010.

With just 67.7 people per square mile, Carroll County matched Harrison’s drop at 8.7%, losing about 2,100 of their population since 2010. And Belmont County dropped 5.5%, which was about 3,903 people.

Guernsey County had 73.6 people per square mile, and they dropped by 4.1%, a population loss of just under 2,000. Noble County saw a 3.6% drop with only 530 fewer people leaving with 35.5 people per square mile. Monroe County was on par with Harrison and Carroll Counties with a loss of 8.6%, a population loss of around 1,200.

2020 was the first census where people could respond online, and the results showed the U.S. population exploding to more than 331 million people. According to the census data, Ohio ranked quite well with a self-response percentage of 70.7 and ranked 12th in that area nationally.

“In 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau counted 331.4 million people living in the United States; more than three-quarters (77.9%) or 258.3 million were adults, 18 years or older — a 10.1% increase from 234.6 million in 2010. The aging of baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, who were ages 57 to 75 in 2021, is partly driving the growth in the adult population,” according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Interestingly, the U.S.’ northeast and south regions saw contrasting data; the highest percentage of a regional adult population lived in the north at 79.7%, but they also had the lowest rate of under-18s at 20.3%. The south was the opposite: their population was 77.5% adults and 22.5% under 18.