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Friday, March 28, 2008

Ohio's Most Populous Metro Area? Majority Of The Counties Are In Kentucky And Indiana

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.


  1. The Census Bureau uses a variety of techniques to describe population centers. Along with the ""Metropolitan Statistical Area," there is the "Combined Statistical Area." The difference is that every MSA has a single 'center.' If you run into something that looks like (or has traditionally been) its own city, it gets its own MSA, even if there is no break in the "metroness" of the area separating them. A CSA is the combination of bordering MSAs (and some other units) that combine into a larger metro region. Cincy gets to add Wilmington, Cleveland gets to add Akron. The result is an estimate of 2,896,968 for Cleveland's CSA, and 2,176,749 for Cincy's, which is probably closer to what you were thinking.

  2. Bonobo --

    Correct. I understand the CSA, MSA. Isn't Clinton County (Wilmington) in the Cincy MSA? For some reason, I think it is. But I am operating on memory and haven't looked it up. My larger point, I reckon, is that NE Ohio (for the time being) is the most densely populated region of Ohio. Akron, Cleveland, Youngstown, Canton and their satellites counties have more people. A larger chunk of the vote is in that section of the state. It is -- plain and simple -- a bigger market. The Census MSA data sort of misrepresents reality, or creates a statistician's version of reality. Cincinnati's data might need an asterisk -- this part of the total is in Ohio, this part of the total is in Kentucky, and this number* represents the sum of the two parts.

  3. The new Cincinnati Metro does include 4 new counties that aren't part of Ohio. But we also lost 2 Ohio counties (Highland and Clinton) from our metro area that combine for a 2000 population total greater than the counties we gain.

    New Counties (none are in Ohio)
    Gallatin 7870
    Grant 22384
    Bracken 8279
    Franklin 22151

    Old Counties (both are in Ohio)
    Highland 23456
    Clinton 40543