COLUMBUS — Central Ohio is on track to become a region of 3 million people by 2050, according to the latest population estimates from the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC). The estimates are developed annually by MORPC to provide up-to-date insights into the patterns of growth in the 15-county region.
“Estimating current populations and projecting future growth are important to local governments as ways to inform long-range planning efforts for villages, townships, cities and counties,” said William Murdock, MORPC executive director. “Keeping track of growth in the region has important implications for how communities plan for the future.”
In 2018, MORPC estimates that the region saw an increase of 43,000 residents – enough to fill both Nationwide Arena and the Schottenstein Center to capacity simultaneously and the largest single-year of growth in Central Ohio’s history. This equates on average to 118 people coming into the region each day. The region’s total population is now estimated to be 2.4 million people.
Franklin County accounted for seventy percent (1.3 million) of the regional population increase, gaining nearly 30,000 residents, an additional 82 new residents per day. This continues a trend of strong growth in the region’s core, which began around 2010. The trend in recent years is a significant shift from the suburban sprawl that characterized the prior several decades. From 2000-2010, Franklin County saw just 40 percent of the region’s total growth.
The city of Columbus also achieved a significant milestone in 2018, surpassing 900,000 residents for the first time. The region’s largest city added nearly 22,000 residents over the past year, a full fifty percent of the regional total.
MORPC has identified several factors that are fueling the region’s growth. Migration, both domestic and international, is a key component. Since 2010, for every resident gained from natural population growth, another moved into the region. Migration into the region is a mix of residents from elsewhere in the United States, including people from other places in Ohio, and a significant number of residents moving to the region from abroad.
Looking to the future, MORPC’s forecasts call for continued steady growth in Central Ohio, with the region reaching the 3 million mark in 2050. Prolonged population booms like the one the region is currently experiencing could drive that number even higher, while economic slowdowns or other unforeseen factors could have a dampening effect. For this reason, MORPC models a range of growth for the future and uses the most likely scenario for its projections.
“What’s important is that Central Ohio is a rapidly growing region, and that growth is not showing signs of slowing down,” Murdock said. “Collectively as a region, we have the opportunity to plan for this growth in a sustainable way that delivers a range of transportation options, offers affordable housing options, ensures all residents have opportunities for economic success, and makes efficient use of our resources.”
The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) is a voluntary association of local governments and regional organizations that envisions and embraces innovative directions in economic prosperity, energy, the environment, housing, land use, and transportation. Our transformative programming, services and innovative public policy are designed to promote and support the vitality and growth in the region. For more information, visit www.morpc.org.
Submitted by the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission.