BALTIMORE — Baltimore’s population has dipped below 600,000 for the first time in more than a century, according to U.S. Census estimates released Thursday.
The city’s estimated population was 593,490 as of July 1, 2019, the new data shows.
That’s a decline of 8,953 people, or 1.5% of the city’s population, from the previous year.
The rate of population loss also increased. Between 2017 and 2018, the city lost more than 8,000 people — a 1.3% decline.
The loss continues a decadeslong trend. Since 2010, the city has lost 27,280 residents, shedding more than 4% of its population, according to the estimates.
Census demographers base the annual population estimates on births, deaths, and migration data. These yearly estimates are revised and updated over time. A comprehensive count of every U.S. resident takes place every 10 years and is currently underway.
The population counts help determine how much federal money Maryland’s counties and Baltimore City receive for health care, water and sewer, housing and other programs.
In a statement issued Thursday, Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young said the numbers “are extremely important and help underscore the critical need to get the 2020 Census count as complete and accurate as possible.”
“I have made boosting Baltimore’s completion rate for the 2020 Census a top priority for my administration,” the Democrat said. “We can’t afford to undercount our population.”
Overall, Maryland’s population increased by 0.2% over the year, standing at 6,045,680 residents in 2019, according to the new census estimates.
Neighboring Howard County had one of the state’s fastest rates of growth over the year (1%), adding more than 3,000 residents for a total of 325,690. Frederick County was the state’s fastest-growing jurisdiction, adding 1.8% to its population.
Baltimore County’s population, meanwhile, decreased by 0.1%, to 827,370.
It’s been more than 100 years since the city of Baltimore’s population was under 600,000.
In 1910, roughly 558,000 residents were counted, according to historical census data provided by the Maryland Department of Planning. By 1920, the city had grown to more than 730,000.
The city’s population peaked at nearly 950,000 in 1950.
The 2020 census has launched, but faces challenges during the nation’s coronavirus crisis. The Census Bureau has suspended field operations until April 1, and local outreach events are canceled.
Officials are urging people to respond to the census online using a computer, smartphone or other device. People can also respond by phone or mail. Later in the year, census takers are scheduled to visit households of those who don’t respond.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us to make sure that every resident completes the 2020 census,” Young said. “Completing the form is more important than ever, and I’m calling on every resident to do your part and get counted.”
During the pandemic, outreach activities will be conducted on social media and through phone banking and texting, the mayor’s office said, adding that the city also plans to distribute information on the census at the dozens of meal sites set up because of the outbreak.
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