In the past three years, Lafayette County has been the fastest-growing county in Mississippi, having increased in population by 8 percent since the last official census in 2010, according to statisitics released by the U.S. Census Bureau March 27. The statistics show the population growth of Mississippi by individual county in the past year. In the period between July 2012 and July 2013, Lafayette County’s population rose by 1.62 percent, the third-largest increase behind Madison and Lamar Counties.
Clifford Holley, research associate at the Center for Population Studies at The University of Mississippi, said that in-state migration is a major reason for Lafayette’s growth.
“When other counties lose population, they probably lose it to Lafayette County,” Holley said.
Out-of-state migration and international migration aren’t heavily present as factors in Mississippi’s population change.
While Lafayette County’s growth is steady and rapid, the state as a whole stacks up poorly against the rest of the country.
“We’re on the bottom side of increase,” Holley said. “We’re probably about the 10th-slowest-growing state.”
The majority of the growth in the United States is concentrated in the West and Southeast, and primarily in areas with access to larger cities.
With Lafayette being heavily influenced by the university, there is an atypical spike in the population of young adults. Lafayette County has as many people aged 20-24 as Jackson County, which contains almost three times the total population of Lafayette.
Holley said the presence of the university greatly contributes to the allure of Oxford, especially among retirees. The town contains amenities such as the Ford Center and Vaught-Hemingway Stadium that are easily accessible without the congestion and rush of a big city.
The large elderly population of the Oxford area, according to Holley, will most likely skew the size and demographics of Lafayette County in the future.
“Unless we see more international migration, we’ll probably start seeing the end of population growth, or even population decline,” he said.
The population estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau are gathered by comparing several statistical observations from the counties, including births compared to deaths and data from the Internal Revenue Service and Medicaid, as well as net internal or domestic migration.
— Kylie McFadden