CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Courtesy of the head counters at the Census Bureau, Cleveland received another black-eye this week. Cincinnati was proclaimed as having the most-populous metro area in Ohio with 2,133,678 million residents. But most of the territory encompassed by Ohio's newly crowned population center isn't in Ohio at all. Seven of the counties are in Kentucky. And two are in Indiana. In fact, it is nearly 90 miles to Brooksville, Ky., which is a rural community in Bracken County. There is hardly a "metro" feel to Brooksville, which is considered on the edge of Kentucky's blue grass country.
In this case, the size story looks to be more from the realm of lies, damn lies and statistics than reality -- with some federal bureaucracy thrown in, and maps thrown out to boot.
True, Cleveland and NEOhio are losing people. Metro Cleveland now has 2,096,471 residents. But each one lives in Ohio. So the comparison to Cincinnati clearly is not entirely fair or accurate. The Cleveland metro area recognized by the Census Bureau is squeezed into 5 counties, most of them along Lake Erie. There are no people who inhabit Lake Erie, so it is a vast area devoid of any population beyond the shoreline. And Cleveland's metro can't pick up people 90 miles away on the other side of the lake -- they are Canadians over there.
Cincy officials and boosters have been crowing that size matters. The newspaper gave the story a big ride, although there are skeptics who question the numbers and geography. The boosters say their metro is now bigger than Cleveland and eligible for more federal money, attention from tourists, and companies looking to grow. But Cleveland could easily bypass Cincinnati if another Ohio county or two were added to its metro area. Subtract the Kentucky counties from Cincy and, well, the Cleveland area -- entirely in Ohio -- is still far and away the population center of this state.