Well the 2010 census numbers have now been released and sadly, it's not good news for our proud community.
According to official numbers released Thursday, Sikeston continues to lose population as we did during the 2000 census. Our current city population is now 16,318, a healthy drop from the 16,992 headcount just 10 years ago. That's a loss of 674 residents during the past decade. And that's not good.
As of this writing, I have not yet had ample time to fully analyze the numbers but I promise to shed some light on these population losses in a couple of days.
Believe me, there will be ample Monday morning quarterbacking on this issue because there is a story to tell in these numbers. We must - as a community - determine why we continue to lose population. And more importantly, we must address a plan to reverse this troubling trend.
Every discussion on population losses or gains begins with the job market. And without question, population follows the jobs. Yet it appears to me - from very early glances - that other communities also suffer job challenges without losing population.
And speaking of census numbers, St. Louis city officials were caught off guard when their numbers were released. As recent as the past mid-week, St. Louis officials were predicting a slight population gain there. But the numbers show a 29,000 loss in population. St. Louis is rapidly becoming a massive entitlement community with a rapidly dwindling tax base and fewer productive taxpayers to support that troubled population.
Back to Sikeston.
It's time for the citizens of this community - in the coffee shops and beauty parlors - to be honest about our town and search for solutions to reverse this population loss. The city has made substantial efforts to clean-up our community and our image. But these numbers bring into question the success of those efforts.
I'm dazed right now, to be real honest. I had hoped for a more optimistic picture with the release of the census numbers. And I was wrong.
As I said earlier, give me a couple of days to reflect on these numbers and try to provide an accurate portrait of where we are, where we've been and perhaps where we need to go.