Bay County sees growth in U.S. 2020 Census

Published: Aug. 21, 2021 at 10:58 PM CDT
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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - After a decade of planning and headcounts, the U.S. Census Bureau has released its 2020 survey numbers. Over the last 10 years, the nation grew at its slowest rate since the 1930′s. It’s a slowdown shown across many areas in the report. But just because it wasn’t a quick spike in numbers, the numbers are still up.

Results show more than 175,000 people now calling Bay County home. That’s nearly a 4% jump from 2010.

“Everyone has figured out that Bay County’s open,” Bay County Commissioner Robert Carroll said. “Lots of new developments, apartments, subdivisions. And with that growth, we’re thinking people are relocating but they’re not. They’re actually moving here from other parts of the country essentially.”

Its not surprising if you’ve been out on the roads lately.

“Well, if you drive anywhere around Bay County, you’ll notice the traffic. We’ve got traffic on 231, Back Beach Road, Highway 77,” Carroll said.

The report shows more people in Panama City Beach, but not as many in other cities. On the East side of town, the numbers are down. Places like Panama City and Mexico Beach both showed decreases. Carroll said it’s likely because of Hurricane Michael.

“Which we know that, but they’re building back. Again, if we do a new snapshot, I think we’d see those numbers back to where they were pre-storm,” Carroll said.

Higher numbers are critical for funding.

“There are federal dollars for highways and roads. That is based on population. And how it’s dispersed, it affects the schools, cares act is all based on population. So, the higher the population, the more opportunities there are,” Carroll said.

A higher population count is what Carroll said he is expecting for the 2030 Census.

“Oh, my goodness. Yeah. That number is going to get larger I would imagine. You’ll probably see a minimum 10-15% increase, if not higher,” Carroll said.

Growth was seen overall across the state. Results from the 2020 Census gave Florida an extra seat in congress for the next decade.

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