Republic County Population Estimate – 2014

The nation’s smallest rural counties lost population as a group in the latest population estimates – for the fourth year in a row. While metropolitan areas and counties with small cities have gained about 1% this decade, “noncore” counties – with no cities of 10,000 residents and up – have dropped by half a percent.

By Luke Mahin RCED Director

This week I read an article  in The Daily Yonder titled Smallest Counties Lose Population — Again By Tim Marema. The map above shows change in rural county population 2013-2014 nationally. The only counties near us to show growth were Smith, Cloud, Lincoln, and Thayer (NE). From this map it looked like Republic County is one of the many rural counties with a population that is spiralling downward.

I was hesitant to see how many Republic County lost, but when I started looking at the interactive data map for myself I was pleasantly surprised. I found Republic County and the region aren’t declining by much and in fact some are estimating growth. Below is Republic County population from the Census in 2010 and estimates from 2011-2014.

Republic County Population Estimates 2014

2010 Population: 4,980
2011 Pop. Estimate: 4,913 (-1.35%)
2012 Pop. Estimate: 4,858 (-1.12%)
2013 Pop. Estimate: 4,810 (-0.99%)
2014 Pop. Estimate: 4,803 (-0.15%)

In this timeline the county population seems to be stabilizing  where we have lost fewer and fewer people in the last three years. The annual population loss from 2010 to 2014 was 67, 55, 48, and 7 people respectively.  Considering the decline our county has witnessed, to only lose  SEVEN people from 2013-2014 is incredible!

The formula for population growth is to have more births or new residents than you have deaths or out migration. Republic County’s median age is 50.1 so the majority of our households are not having anymore children. The lack of more children means we would need to rely on new residents stabilize our population loss. 

But where will new people live? Housing development is difficult and it’s shows when 51% of our housing stock was built before 1939 and less than 10% was built since 1990. We do have growth potential with new businessesnew jobs and housing projects.  Stabilizing our population is entirely possible but substantial growth doesn’t happen without development of new housing.

Don’t believe population growth can happen? Take a look at what happened from July 2009 to July 2010 Republic County’s population grew from 4,808 to 4,955. *This happens to be the same year that I and many other young people moved back to Republic County. 

From 2010 – 2014 we lost and estimated 177 people or 3.6% of our population. If the annual 0.9% population loss stays constant through this decade we could expect to lose 443 people. The 2020 population could dip to 4,537  or a 9% loss from 4,980 in 2010. If that happens it will be the first time since 1930-1940 that Republic County lost less than 10% of it’s population in any decade since.

We should use the information objectively and not let a population figure dictate the attitude of our county and towns.  Rural America will always change and adapting together in a positive manner will benefit us the most. Just because it’s not like the “good ol’ days” doesn’t mean we stop making the most of what we have for ourselves and the next generation.

Historical Republic County population
Census Pop.
1870 1,281
1880 14,913 1,064.2%
1890 19,002 27.4%
1900 18,248 −4.0%
1910 17,447 −4.4%
1920 15,855 −9.1%
1930 14,745 −7.0%
1940 13,124 −11.0%
1950 11,478 −12.5%
1960 9,768 −14.9%
1970 8,498 −13.0%
1980 7,569 −10.9%
1990 6,482 −14.4%
2000 5,835 −10.0%
2010 4,980 −14.7%
Est. 2014 4,803 −3.6%
U.S. Decennial Census[6]
1790-1960[7] 1900-1990[8]
1990-2000[9] 2010-2013[1]

Area Counties

Click to view the interactive map of rural counties.

Jewell County
2010 Population: 3,077
2011 Pop. Estimate: 3,087
2012 Pop. Estimate: 3,037
2013 Pop. Estimate: 3,067
2014 Pop. Estimate: 3,043

Cloud County
2010 Population: 9,533
2011 Pop. Estimate: 9,395
2012 Pop. Estimate: 9,392
2013 Pop. Estimate: 9,365
2014 Pop. Estimate: 9,385

Washington County
2010 Population: 5,799
2011 Pop. Estimate: 5,838
2012 Pop. Estimate: 5,731
2013 Pop. Estimate: 5,628
2014 Pop. Estimate: 5,598

Thayer County, NE
2010 Population: 5,228
2011 Pop. Estimate: 5,171
2012 Pop. Estimate: 5,154
2013 Pop. Estimate: 5,196
2014 Pop. Estimate: 5,230

Nuckolls County, NE
2010 Population: 4,500
2011 Pop. Estimate: 4,451
2012 Pop. Estimate: 4,431
2013 Pop. Estimate: 4,395
2014 Pop. Estimate: 4,369

Mitchell County
2010 Population: 6,373
2011 Pop. Estimate: 6,304
2012 Pop. Estimate: 6,342
2013 Pop. Estimate: 6,336
2014 Pop. Estimate: 6,284

Clay County
2010 Population: 8,535
2011 Pop. Estimate: 8,525
2012 Pop. Estimate: 8,517
2013 Pop. Estimate: 8,390
2014 Pop. Estimate: 8,317

Jefferson County
2010 Population: 7,547
2011 Pop. Estimate: 7,557
2012 Pop. Estimate: 7,551
2013 Pop. Estimate: 7,547
2014 Pop. Estimate: 7,335