HANNIBAL, Mo. — Recently released U.S. Census Bureau estimates show that since 2010 Hannibal has lost 1.8 percent of its population. Rather than worry about what the data shows, Hannibal city officials say they are confident the area’s population isn’t actually in a downward trend.
“I am very skeptical of any of the projections done by the federal census for rural areas for the years after the 2010 census,” Northeast Missouri Economic Development Council Executive Director George Walley said.
Hannibal City Manager Jeff LaGarce agreed. He said at issue is the Census Bureau’s mapping, which can lead to inaccurate numbers.
“The census has a project called Boundary and Annexation Survey that asks cities to update their physical boundaries,” he explained. “I’ve reviewed the Census Bureau’s existing maps for Hannibal, and they’re really inaccurate when looking at Hannibal today. They exclude a number of areas annexed by the city in recent years.”
The city completed in early July another census project that required a physical count of Hannibal’s residential dwelling units. Housing not in census data includes several new subdivisions created since 2010.
“We identified over 150 residential dwelling units in Hannibal the Census Bureau was not aware of,” LaGarce said. “The results of the study will contribute to more accurate population counts for the 2020 census. By that time, Hannibal’s population counts should benefit from that residential growth.”
Walley said that the most useful data when promoting economic development in the area comes from the Missouri Census Data Center. According to that data, Marion County’s population increased by 1.7 percent, and Ralls County’s population increased by 5.6 percent from 2000 to 2010.
“I just don’t see that pattern going backwards. We have the lowest unemployment in years, lowest available housing inventory in years, lowest apartment availability in years, and five new subdivisions going up in the Hannibal area,” Walley said. “As a city, I do acknowledge that we have lost citizens, but many have just moved outside the city limits to these growing neighborhoods around us in Marion and Ralls County. The goods news is that three of the subdivisions under construction are now within the city limits.”
Hannibal population totals:
2010: 17,916 people
2011: 17,816 people
2012: 17,835 people
2013: 17,844 people
2014: 17,779 people
2015: 17,717 people
2016: 17,707 people
2017: 17,590 people
— Info from U.S. Census Bureau. The Missouri Census Data Center does not have population estimates after 2010.