By Linda Kor
Recent figures from the U.S. Census Bureau show that while Arizona has shown an overall growth in population by five percent from 2010 through 2014, that growth did not come from the cities in central Navajo County.
The state’s population grew from 6.4 million to 6.7 million over the past five years and Navajo County as a whole saw some slight growth, moving from 107,649 to 108,101, which comes to fourth-tenths of a percent increase. However, the figures also show that the communities of Winslow and Holbrook suffered a slight decrease in population over the years.
Holbrook’s population has decreased from 5,052 to 5,016, a 0.7 percent decrease, and Winslow decreased from 9,705 to 9,604, for a decrease of about one percent.
Going south, Snowflake went from 5,599 to 5,644 for an increase of 0.8 percent and Taylor showed a 0.6 percent increase in population, going from 4,121 to 4,144 over the five-year period.
Further south, Show Low showed the greatest increase, moving from 10,694 to 10,841, boosting its population by 1.4 percent and Pinetop-Lakeside went from 4,299 to 4,318 for a 0.4 percent increase. The rest of the county went from 68,179 to 68,534, a 0.5 percent increase.
The most likely factors that contributed to the population decrease in the county are the loss of jobs. In 2012, Catalyst Paper closed down, creating a loss of more than 300 jobs while some state and county jobs were cut, and others were lost to attrition.
Hopes for new industry such as potash mining development have diminished as potash prices have remained low, presenting less appeal for investors. Other large industry opportunities have yet to present themselves.