Much of Pulaski County — with the exception of Jacksonville and Cammack Village — continues to see population increases, according to a report recently issued called “Metro Trends,” published by Metroplan of Central Arkansas.
The study shows population trends comparing the 2010 U.S. Census to figures compiled for 2012.
According to the study, North Little Rock’s population grew by 1.1 percent , from 62,304 people in 2010 to 62,979 in 2012.
Sherwood’s population also grew, tabulated at 29,523 people in 2010 and showing a increase of 1.9 percent by 2012, totaling 29,910 this year, according to the study.
Jacksonville’s population went down slightly — by 0.1 percent or 30 people. According to the study, Jacksonville’s population is 28,334 in 2012 and in 2010 was 28,364, according to the study.
Central Arkansas’ population north of the Arkansas River increased by 1.2 percent from 2010 to 2012, according to the study. The area’s population was 162,764 in 2010 and is now 164,774 in 2012.
In the unincorporated areas north of the river, the population grew by 2.6 percent, from 25,410 in 2010 to 26,059.
The population growth north of the river grew at a faster pace than it did in Little Rock, which went up from 193,524 in 2010 to 194,439 in 2012 which is an increase of 0.5 percent.
“By the year 2040, the Central Arkansas region will be approaching a population of one million,” according to the study. “The region in 2040 will be much more ethnically diverse. Population will be older than today, yet its rate of aging will be slowing down.”
The oldest Baby Boomers will be 94, and the youngest 77. The Baby Boomers will be a diminishing share of total population, while the smaller “Generation X” will be passing into retirement. The next—and somewhat larger group, sometimes called Generation Y, will be reaching its maximum income-earning years, possibly reversing decades of slowed income growth, states the study.
“The remarks above are best called ‘informed possibilities,’ not certainties. Metroplan is required to project population 30 years ahead, to plan for the long-term future. The advantage of such demographic analysis is that a good share of the future’s population is already alive today. In fact, Metroplan estimates that about 62 percent of its 2040 population has already been born. People alive today will bring the future about, and vital trends like childbearing are affected by age and ethnicity,” adds the study.
Metroplan’s 2012 population estimates give the first picture of local population change since the 2010 Census.
They are just estimates, based primarily on housing construction trends, and should be viewed with caution.
Nonetheless, the new figures show some shifting of trends compared with the previous decade.
While population growth in outlying counties continues to run faster than in Pulaski County, growth has slowed in both Lonoke and Saline counties, compared with the same period during the early 2000s. Pulaski County growth has held steady. Faulkner County, however, has continued a fast pace of population growth. Conway, with half the county’s population, has led the trend. In fact, population growth in this city accounted for more than one-fourth of all population growth within the six-county region.
Conway’s growth—boosted by major apartment construction on the city’s southern fringe—has been nearly matched by continuing population growth in Greenbrier, Mayflower and Vilonia. In the case of these three cities, however, single-family housing growth has led the trend. Population change is a product of just three factors: births, deaths and migration. The first two can be predicted reasonably well, based on known factors related to sex, age and ethnicity. The third factor—migration—is more difficult to predict. In the recent past, migration has influenced the Central Arkansas region’s rate of growth.
During the 1980s, net migration was barely positive, and population growth ran slowly. In the 1990s, migration picked up, and it sped up from 2000 to 2010. Metroplan predicts that migration will run at about the rate it did between 1990 and 2010 overall, not quite as fast as in the past decade, but faster than in the slow 1980s.
The region’s fastest-growing city was Bryant, which grew by 8.5 percent, also accompanied by large-scale apartment construction. Growth in Benton has, however, slowed compared with the past decade. Hot Springs Village, which grew rapidly during the 1990s and 2000s, has slowed.
Overall, Saline County growth has also slowed from the previous decade. Similar trends are visible in Lonoke County.
Within Pulaski County, Maumelle remains the fastest growing community, followed by Sherwood. Large-scale apartment construction has been a factor in North Little Rock growth, primarily, but not exclusively, in the city’s western portion, west of I-430. Little Rock continues growing slowly, also boosted by sizeable multi-family construction. Little Rock’s comparatively slow rate of growth owes something to its population size, since it is still three times larger than any other city in the region. In absolute terms, Little Rock population growth ranked third among the region’s cities.
Census Bureau estimates show that U.S. population grew by 1.3 percent from Census 2010 to January 1, 2012.
Metroplan estimates suggest the local region grew at a marginally faster 1.9 percent.