Is Columbus Ohio Growing or Shrinking? An Expert's Perspective

COLUMBUS, Ohio is a city that has been on an upward trajectory since the 1950s, and now there is even more evidence to back up this trend. While many cities across the Midwest have seen a decrease in population, Columbus has managed to maintain its growth rate. We asked experts what other cities can learn from Columbus' success. A study revealed that wages in the city and metropolitan area of Columbus have increased more than anywhere else in Ohio since 2000. However, these wages still did not keep up with national trends, increasing at rates of 45% and 50% respectively, compared to 55% in the country.

As Columbus outlines a growth strategy for the coming decades, addressing the issue of housing and homelessness will be an essential component of achieving the goal of prosperity for all. The down payment program available in Cleveland provides greater assistance in real dollars in an area where those dollars can go further than in Columbus. Ohio has also regained fewer jobs since then, with a net loss of 3.9 percent, while Columbus reported a net loss of 2.7 percent, roughly equal to that of the U. S. UU. The city of Columbus and its metropolitan area have developed largely around professional and government services, education and medicine, and do not show the characteristics of manufacturing loss and an aging population.

In fact, they diverge from much of the state in many key trends. Without an increase in housing supply, Columbus could struggle to continue on a growth trajectory. As in many regions of the United States, the main factors contributing to housing shortages in Columbus are rooted in deeply irritating economic and social problems such as stagnant incomes, racial gaps in homeownership, and access to finance and services. Local governments in the Columbus region can further improve the economics of housing development by producing and maintaining ready-to-use design schemes that can be easily used by potential housing unit developers. Ohio is plagued by what are known as “legacy cities” - places that gained prominence in the early and middle of the 20th century around a manufacturing economy but experienced significant population and manufacturing losses in the middle and end of the 20th century. According to a new report, the vast majority of the state is aging, losing population and workers - a trend that is only offset by the growth taking place mainly in Columbus and its surroundings. For these reasons, Columbus has been growing at the same time that other Ohio cities such as Cleveland have struggled to retain their population; together with Cincinnati, it is one of two most populated cities in Ohio that are not being depopulated.

In addition to government jobs, employers such as Ohio State University, JPMorgan, Huntington and insurance companies are shaping the city's economy. And disproportionately, Columbus legislators represent small towns and suburban communities. The city has never seen a drop in its population since its founding, experiencing a remarkably rapid increase around 1950. Brandon Carrus is a senior partner and managing partner in McKinsey's Ohio office; Seth Myers is a partner; Brian Parro is an associate partner; Duwain Pinder is a partner in the Ohio office and leader of the McKinsey Institute for Black Economic Mobility; Ben Safran is a partner in the Washington DC office.

Thomas Walker
Thomas Walker

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