Data released by the U.S. Census Bureau last week shows Tipton County’s population decreased by .18 percent over the last decade.
Tipton County Executive Jeff Huffman said he doesn’t believe that for a minute.
“Everywhere you drive from Brighton south there’s construction going on, if you put a house on the market someone’s going to buy it,” he said Wednesday. “There’s absolutely no way our population’s gone down.”
The census, which was conducted last year amid the initial phases of the pandemic, reported Tipton County’s population fell .18 percent from 61,081 to 60,970.
The decade prior, during the mid-2000s housing boom, the county grew by 19.2 percent.
How population changed in Tipton’s towns and cities
Of the municipalities, only Atoka, Brighton and Munford recorded increases.
The Town of Atoka’s population grew 19.3 percent from 8,387 in 2010 to 10,008. Brigton grew 5.6 percent from 2,735 to 2,888. Munford’s population increased 6.32 percent, from 5,927 to 6,302.
Mason and Burlison saw the largest losses – with a decrease of 16.9 and 13.6 percent, respectively – according to the numbers provided. Mason’s population, which includes those in custody at the West Tennessee Detention Facility, was recorded at 1,337, which is down from 1,609. Burlison went from 425 to 367.
Until the last special census in 2016, Covington had historically been the most populated city in Tipton County. Atoka surpassed Covington midway through the last decade and is now the city with the most residents. In 1980, Atoka had only 11.4 percent of the population of Covington with only 659 residents. That is a 1,348 percent population increase.
By comparison, Covington’s seen a net increase of 42.83 percent. Garland and Burlison saw overall decreases in the last 40 years while Gilt Edge increased by 16.4 percent, Munford by 169.7 percent, Mason by 183.86 percent and Brighton by 195.9 percent.
Mason’s population grew the most from 1990 to 2000, after the CoreCivic-owned prison was located there. The multi-security facility can hold up to 500 people imprisoned by the U.S. Marshals.
How the new estimates will be used
From 1980 to 2010 Tipton County’s population nearly doubled – from 32,930 to 61,081 – before a decline was shown with the 2020 numbers.
Estimated populations can affect many things, such as grant dollars and the way districts are drawn.
Huffman said the county is looking at potentially conducting a special census. That will take a couple of years, but in the meantime the county government must complete its reapportionment based on the 2020 data. Reapportionment involves using census tract data, which he still hasn’t received due to delays in reporting by the U.S. Census Bureau, to make sure the county’s commissioners, school board members and constables are representing an equitable number of residents.
They only have a few meetings before this data can be reviewed and the process completed and they’re under a time crunch, Huffman said.
“The northern area of the county may have lost people, but from Brighton south I know we’ve gained people. Some of Atoka’s districts may have to be smaller and some of Covington’s bigger.”
As to what may have happened, and why he believes the numbers are incorrect, Huffman said he didn’t believe some who work at the U.S. Census Bureau believe in the census, that COVID had a big effect on gathering accurate data and the growing distrust of the government meant people were less likely to cooperate with reporting.
“People thought the government was going to cross check their wages, that it may change their government payment, maybe,” he said. “So the people who would really benefit from an effective census were less likely to participate.”