Census shows Newton shrinking — but did it?

Chad Frey
The Kansan
After a decade of strong housing start numbers, city staff expected to see different census numbers. According to the census, Newton shrank by more than 500 people.

The latest Census numbers for Newton have been greeted with a little bit of skepticism — based on a flurry of housing starts in recent years and previous experience for the community. 

The 2020 census currently shows Newton shrinking by 2.8 percent during a time period. Census data sets the population of Newton at 18,602 residents.

This comes after a decade when new housing starts — particularly multi-family dwellings — have been high. 

"Staff has concerns about the data because it is contrary to what we experience on a local level – such as an increased housing demand for all types of residential properties in all price points," McElroy said. "Since 2010 Newton has added more than 150 housing units and they’ve all been quickly snatched up and filled. ...  We continue to experience a high demand for housing.

There was a large influx of rentals in 2017, when the community saw more than 116 housing starts registerd in that year. By comparison, there were 106 housing starts in the five year period — 2012 to 2016 — prior to 2017.

Fueling that bump in 2017 were two projects — Prairie Fire Residences constructed  63 housing units in 21 tri-plexes.  Cottonwood Crossing constructed 42 units — 32 apartments and five duplexes.

Cottonwood Crossing is now full, and this year announced the intention to begin another phase of the project — the expansion is expected to add 50 duplexes, or 100 housing units of 1,550 square feet each, with three bedrooms and two and a half to three bathrooms (depending on the floor plan), and a two-car garage. They will be universal build, slab-on-grade, with a safe room/storm shelter built in. 

In addition, Mennonite Housing announced moving forward with the first phase of a senior housing project including 32 housing units, clubhouse, and maintenance garage. Possible amenities will include pickleball courts and a walking path.

With the expansion of housing in the city, the census numbers leaves city staff with a number of unanswered questions. 

"Staff has concerns about the data because it doesn’t match up with our local stats and information," McElory said. "Utilizing the new Census data, we know that the average Newton household size has increased over this same period of time from 2.4 to 2.7 residents. Newton has about 7,500 utility customers. That equates to about 18,525 individuals… but that doesn’t account for the portion of those customers that are multi-family and running off a master meter. For example, we have apartment buildings, mobile home parks, duplexes, triplexs and quad-plexes that have multiple residents, but are on one master meter."   

According to the census data, nearly every city in the county shrank — and the county shrank as a whole — losing 660 residents or 1.9 percent as a whole. 

"Most of our cities saw a decline in population with the exception of North Newton and Halstead," said Anthony Swartzendruber, county administrator. " ... If you look at surrounding counties, many were down with the exception of Butler, McPherson and Sedgwick with increases."

One result of the shrinkage is Harvey County dropping to 17th in the state for population, passed by Geary, Ford and Miami counties. 

Swartzendruber said the drops in Harvey County cities are what fueled the drop to 34,000 for the county — and that "the easy math" shows that the rural population of the county increased by an estimated 70 people. 

The state is credited with growing by 3 percent. 

"The population trend in Kansas – and throughout the country – is a shift toward more urban areas," McElroy said. "The more rural counties and the small and medium-size cities like Newton seem to have taken a hit." 

As more detailed information is released, namely block information, the county can use the census data to redraw commission districts. 

The below figures show the U.S. Bureau's 2020 Census counts for people, as well as the USA TODAY analysis of how those counts have changed from the 2010 Census. Where detailed demographic data appear, all racial groups are included. Ethnicity — whether someone is Hispanic or Latino — is counted separate from race by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Communities in many locations will not reflect total population and should not be added together. In some counties, people don't live inside an incorporated community; in others, multiple levels of communities may overlap.

— Yoonserk Pyun and Mike Stucka, USA Today network, contributed to this report.

 

Kansas

 

 2020 countChange% change

Total

2,937,880

84,762

3.0%

White

2,222,462

-168,582

-7.1%

Black

168,809

945

0.6%

American Indian

30,995

2,845

10.1%

Asian

86,273

18,511

27.3%

Pacific Islander

3,412

1,174

52.5%

Other Race

145,422

35,295

32.0%

Two or More Races

280,507

194,574

226.4%

Hispanic

382,603

82,561

27.5%

 

Harvey County

 

 2020 countChange% change

Total

34,024

-660

-1.9%

White

28,658

-3,035

-9.6%

Black

650

86

15.2%

American Indian

267

16

6.4%

Asian

261

5

2.0%

Pacific Islander

11

1

10.0%

Other Race

1,482

382

34.7%

Two or More Races

2,695

1,885

232.7%

Hispanic

4,055

308

8.2%

 

Newton city

 

 2020 countChange% change

Total

18,602

-530

-2.8%

White

14,657

-2,255

-13.3%

Black

471

44

10.3%

American Indian

188

20

11.9%

Asian

164

18

12.3%

Pacific Islander

4

-4

-50.0%

Other Race

1,250

343

37.8%

Two or More Races

1,868

1,304

231.2%

Hispanic

3,306

190

6.1%

 

Hesston city

 

 2020 countChange% change

Total

3,505

-204

-5.5%

White

3,155

-282

-8.2%

Black

57

-2

-3.4%

American Indian

21

-1

-4.5%

Asian

59

-3

-4.8%

Pacific Islander

0

 

 

Other Race

66

9

15.8%

Two or More Races

147

76

107.0%

Hispanic

161

-5

-3.0%

 

Halstead city

 

 2020 countChange% change

Total

2,179

94

4.5%

White

2,006

-10

-0.5%

Black

12

1

9.1%

American Indian

5

0

0.0%

Asian

1

-6

-85.7%

Pacific Islander

2

2

%

Other Race

16

2

14.3%

Two or More Races

137

105

328.1%

Hispanic

102

20

24.4%

 

Communities

 

 2020 countChange% change

Alta township

221

-15

-6.4%

Burrton city

861

-40

-4.4%

Burrton township

1,057

-23

-2.1%

Darlington township

586

11

1.9%

Emma township

4,038

-229

-5.4%

Garden township

300

20

7.1%

Halstead city

2,179

94

4.5%

Halstead township

392

27

7.4%

Hesston city

3,505

-204

-5.5%

Highland township

384

-4

-1.0%

Lake township

170

12

7.6%

Lakin township

358

27

8.2%

Macon township

498

-33

-6.2%

Newton city

18,602

-530

-2.8%

Newton township

2,207

77

3.6%

North Newton city

1,814

55

3.1%

Pleasant township

457

57

14.2%

Richland township

358

-9

-2.5%

Sedgwick city

1,603

-92

-5.4%

Sedgwick township

1,748

-85

-4.6%

Walton city

219

-16

-6.8%

Walton township

469

-57

-10.8%