About half of Middle Georgias cities lost population in a recent year, while growth in the rest slowed, new U.S. Census Bureau estimates suggest.
The estimates, released Thursday, suggest Byron was the fastest-growing city in the area, growing about 1.67 percent -- just 79 people -- between July 2012 and July 2013.
In that same time period, the Census Bureau said, Fort Valley may have lost 626 people for a 6.44 percent loss in just a single year.
Macon itself lost a lower percentage, at 1.31 percent, but about 1,195 people. Bibb County overall lost an estimated 1,441 people, so the difference suggests several hundred people also left unincorporated Bibb County in a single year. The city and county governments consolidated at the beginning of this year, but the Census Bureau population estimates dont cover that time period.
Warner Robins added the most people in a single year, 748. That accounts for about half of Houston Countys overall growth. The city grew 1.04 percent, however, less than Byron.
The number of people added in the latest reported year is also less than half of the citys estimated growth between July 2010 and July 2011.
According to the Census Bureau estimates, Middle Georgia cities losing more than 1 percent of their population in a single year also included Cochran and Milledgeville. Gordon and East Dublin had a more modest rate of decline.
Centerville, Dublin, Forsyth and Gray grew less than 1 percent in the latest year reported.
Census population estimates for Middle Georgia counties show births have outstripped deaths, so the overall areas loss of about 1,000 must come from people moving out of the area.
Greg George, director of Middle Georgia State Colleges Center for Economic Analysis, earlier told The Telegraph that the areas unemployment rate has been worse than the national average.
In 2013, Georgias average unemployment rate was 8.3 percent, compared to 7.4 percent nationwide.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.