Albany, Leesburg population rises

ALBANY, Ga. -- For only the second time in the last decade, the city of Albany's population has grown according to estimates released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

According to the numbers, the estimated number of residents within the corporate limits of the city stands at 75,616 as of July 1, 2009, which is up by 386 people from the July 1, 2008 figures.

That growth, while small, is only the second time since 2000 that the city has experienced any expansion in its population, judging from the census numbers.

The data shows that population estimates dropped consistently from the April 1, 2000 Census total of 76,939 until 2007 when the population grew by 96, leaving the total city population at 75,354.

But between 2007 and 2008, that number dropped by 124 leaving 2008 numbers at 75,230.

While the 386-person increase far from balances the 1,805 people the city has lost since 2000, what is interesting is that the growth, both in 2007 and in 2009, happened in the midst of perilous economic times and when people were supposed to be heading out of Albany with the closure of key employers.

Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission staff members say that they haven't had a chance to look at the numbers but that there could be other explanations for the growth.

"Just thinking off the top of my head, we have had some growth in the business sector, like out at the Marine Base and with our small businesses," EDC spokesperson Barbara Rivera-Holmes said. "And there were estimates that when Cooper closed that roughly 600 or so of their employees were from Albany or Dougherty County so it wasn't as if their entire workforce lived here."

The data released Tuesday only accounts for those living in incorporated cities not counties so its unclear as to whether the growth or decline of a specific period of time coincides with a subsequent growth or decline in Dougherty County's population.

Other cities were posted on the release as well.

Leesburg continued their growth trend by adding 43 new residents between July 1, 2008 and July 1, 2009. Since 2000, Leesburg has grown by 332 people, according to the numbers, and if the trend stays solid, the town could welcome its 3,000th resident sometime next year.

Dawson, along with Albany and Leesburg, is the only other city in the Albany Metropolitan Statistical Area to post any level of growth in population.

According to census data, Dawson grew by 84 residents between 2008 and 2009 and has a total population of 4,661.

In Baker County, Newton shrunk by 30 during the 2008-2009 time frame, while Sylvester in Worth County posted a population of 5,751, which is 38 less than 2008 numbers.

Camilla and Pelham in Mitchell County each posted losses in population. Camilla is down 77 at 5,354 residents while Pelham is down an even 50 with 3,687 residents.