A family-owned daily newspaper serving Riverton, Lander and Fremont County, Wyoming since 1949

Temporary

Apr 7, 2017 - By Steven R. Peck

Fremont County has lost population recently, but the demographics are in place for a rebound

In an effort to avoid using an exhausted cliche, the recent report on population patterns in Fremont County will not be described as having good news and bad news.

Instead, let's say it had bad news and not-so-bad news.

The bad was pretty obvious. Fremont County has lost population in the past couple of years. It hasn't been precipitous, but it is real. Since the oil and gas recession stuck a dagger into our county's share of that industry, hundreds of people have moved away.

Even so , data compiled through the State of Wyoming - which is different from the official U. S. Census count - shows that Fremont County's population still is a bit larger then it was when the census was last taken in 2010, but reliable, scientific analysis of the data shows that population gains made since 2010 now are in reverse.

The not-so-bad news is that birth and death rates in Fremont County remain sufficient to support steady population growth - if there is a stable economy.

That is a very major "if," of course. But it is an encouraging element in an otherwise gloomy state report. It is much better than reading a report which says "despite a strong economy, Fremont County doesn't have sufficient population or birth rate to grow."

The strong suggestion is that when the energy economy rebounds, as most experts believe it will, Fremont County has the basic demographic structure in place to regain prosperity.

There are those among us who see little or nothing wrong with no-growth population. Living in a small-population state and its small-population communities is just what some Wyoming residents have in mind in living here.

They had best be careful what they wish for. While it is perfectly understandable not to want unchecked population growth in Fremont County, the chances of that happening - even in a robust economy - are virtually nonexistent. On the other hand, the risks of stagnant or shrinking population are much more real, and they have much greater potential for long-term damage.

For the moment, the population loss appears temporary. The basic building blocks for population growth remain in place for the time being. All we need to prove it is for the economy to give us a break.
 

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