People moving into South Mississippi

March 26, 2014
By MaryHalford

The population of Harrison County is steadily growing, and the number of people in all but one of the six southernmost counties is on the rise, according to numbers being released by the U.S. Census Bureau today.

Harrison County has seen the strongest growth in South Mississippi, with a population that's increased by 4.6 percent since 2010, according to the annual resident population estimates from the census. Hancock County ranks second, with a growth of 3.5 percent over the three-year period. George County showed a 2.2 percent increase; Stone, 0.7 percent; and Jackson County, 0.6 percent. Pearl River County had a dip of 1.3 percent.

"I think Harrison County is seeing a comeback from the economic downturn," said Marlin Ladner, president of the county's Board of Supervisors. "Our key industries are tourism and the casinos, and I think we're growing in that sector."

In August, the Harrison County School District will open the doors of a new school building, River Oaks Elementary, which came about after a population surge in the area.

"We've got a growth corridor going on up through there," Ladner said. "The population of the school district is indicative of the growth and where it is. I see that growth as reflected in the demand for schools."

Ladner also credited the shipbuilding industry with some of the population hike.

"It's a key industry in Harrison County that I think is overlooked sometimes," he said.

In Hancock County, the population numbers came as no surprise to Alan Dedeaux, superintendent of the Hancock County School District.

"Our enrollment has increased -- this year is the most students we've ever had in the school district," he said. "Typically once the school year starts our numbers go down, but this year they're going up. Our student enrollment is climbing throughout the year."

The census shows population numbers have consistently gone up in Hancock County since 2010, and those figures reflect what Dedeaux sees in the schools. Since 2010, the district has gained just more than 400 students.

"We're pretty excited about the direction we're going in," he said. "It's a good sign that our numbers are going up, we want our student population to increase."

The census also showed there were more births than deaths in all of the six lower Mississippi counties during the three-year period that began in 2010.

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