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Lagging population growth a challenge for Wisconsin

MADISON (WKOW) -- During a hearing that gave the state Senate's education committee an overview of the state's demographics Tuesday, lawmakers heard about how the state's slow population growth presents a challenge for Wisconsin in the coming years.

Dale Knapp, the Director of Forward Analytics, presenting data outlining various troubling population-related trends.

Knapp's report found that between 2010 and 2019, the state's population grew by 2.4%, the 35th highest rate in the country.

14 of the state's 72 counties saw a population decline. While most of those counties were in the rural northernmost part of the state, Milwaukee County also lost residents over the past decade.

From 2010 to 2019, Knapp's report stated Wisconsin had 73,000 fewer kids living in the state, something partially attributed to Wisconsin having its lowest rate of births since 1973.

The state's rural areas took the biggest population hits, with Knapp highlighting the drop-offs from people ages 15-19 graduating into the 20-24 group in those regions.

Even urban areas saw a dip of adults aged 20-24 graduating into the 25-29 range.

Knapp said it was a sign too many young adults were leaving the state and not moving back, a troubling trend amid lagging population growth nationwide.

"If we're gonna solve our demographic problem, our economic problem, we have to set ourselves apart from everybody else," Knapp told the committee.

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A. J. Bayatpour

Capitol Bureau Chief

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