Gov.-elect John Kasich likes to underscore his statements with a strong, sometimes sensational, anecdote to drive home his points.
At a recent news conference, the incoming Republican leader stressed the urgency for his administration to come in and work quickly to jump start Ohio’s economy to, as he claims, stem the state’s declining population as more people give up on the Buckeye state and choose to live elsewhere.
"I just read the other day that Ohio has lost more population than every other state in the country except for two," Kasich told reporters Dec. 14. "So, people exiting the state, gosh, it’s a terrible situation."
Kasich isn’t sure where he picked up that tidbit of information. PolitiFact Ohio isn’t either, because it sounded new to us.
Has Ohio really has lost more of its population than 47 other states? Over what time period?
So we decided to take a look.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau official state counts for the Census 2010, released on Dec. 21, only one state lost population from April 2000 to April 2010 and it wasn’t Ohio — it was our neighbors to the north, Michigan.
But maybe Kasich flubbed his words and meant Ohio’s population grew more slowly than every other state but two. That would be closer to the truth. Ohio’s population grew 1.6 percent over the decade to just over 11.5 million people, according to the census figures.
Only Louisiana at 1.4 percent and Rhode Island at 0.4 percent grew at a more sluggish pace. Michigan’s population dropped 0.6 percent. That would leave Ohio ranked 47th over the past decade in population growth.
Or, maybe the governor-elect was talking about some previous census figures. The census bureau had routinely put out annual estimates and other projections prior to issuing its official data drop in mid-December.
But even by earlier estimates and projections, Ohio did not lose population but gained more people, albeit at a much slower pace than most of the rest of the country.
Kasich is correct to be concerned.
While Ohio’s overall population is still seventh-highest in the country, the state’s slower pace of
growth could also directly affect the pace at which Ohio’s struggling economy recovers.
Another concern is that while Ohio hasn’t lost population, other states are gaining new residents faster. The most immediate consequence of that for the state is a loss of clout in Washington, where Ohio will lose two of its 18 congressional seats and have fewer electoral college votes for presidential elections due to the population trends.
We offered the governor-elect the benefit the doubt, but from any angle you look at it, Ohio did not lose population from this year over last, or in 2009 from 2008, or this year compared to 2000.
On this one, Kasich doesn’t need sensational talk to highlight a problematic issue.
We rate Kasich’s statement False.