Excerpt of Waterbury Republican-American newspaper front page article, by Mike Patrick
WATERBURY – It may not seem fair to compare Waterbury to Stamford, which benefits from its proximity to New York City, large transportation hub and vibrant corporate climate. But strip those elements away, and you’re left with a city of former factories and mills, just like Waterbury, and a downtown that not long ago faced the same challenges as the Brass City’s.
Where Stamford is not challenged, however, is in population growth. Over a period of seven years, between 2010 and 2017, Stamford grew by about 8,000 people, according to recently released census data that also estimates Waterbury lost about 2,000 residents during the same years.
The data indicates Waterbury’s population dipped from 110,403 to 108,629.
The census data was compiled and interpreted by a New Haven-based firm called DataHaven, which compared the Waterbury figure not only to Stamford, but the other three largest cities in the state, New Haven, Hartford and Bridgeport. While Stamford’s population, over that eight-year period, grew by 6.5 percent, from 122,839 to 130,824, the Bridgeport and New Haven populations fluctuated, and Hartford’s, like Waterbury’s, dipped by 1.6 percent.
DataHaven Executive Director Mark Abraham said a number of factors could contribute to a declining population. He noted in Waterbury the high vacancy rate, and the fact the city hasn’t benefited significantly from the state’s investment in its rail lines. “
That decision where to invest money into large cities over time affects distribution of jobs and population,” Abraham said. He later noted, “If you saw jobs growing quickly in Waterbury, you’d see population growth as well.”
Experts and officials pointed to a number of factors, including educational funding and tax collection, that may affect the fluctuation of populations in several of the state’s largest cities.
WHILE WATERBURY LACKS THE CHARACTERISTICS that set Stamford apart from it and other major Connecticut cities, it could take a cue from Stamford’s success, a city official there said.
DataHaven’s reports might provide other insight. A 2015 survey the firm conducted indicates the percentage of adults “satisfied with area where he/she lives” in Waterbury was 63 percent, versus the statewide rate of 82 percent. The percentage who “feel safe to walk at night in his/her neighborhood” was 49 percent in Waterbury to the state’s 71 percent. The number who described themselves in good health in Waterbury was significantly lower than the state rate, while smokers, the obese, the impoverished, and the number of those without a high school, diploma all were well higher than the overall state rate.
In Stamford, the opposite was true for almost every data point. [....]
Read the full article at https://www.rep-am.com/local/news-local/2018/12/22/report-residents-flee....