Study says Warren is shrinking

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Warren’s population is expected to drop steadily and substantially over the next three decades, a new state study concludes.

The study of population trends prepared by the Rhode Island Statewide Planning Program concludes that Warren’s population will decline by nearly 15 percent over the next 27 years, dropping from the 10,611 counted in the 2010 census to 9,084 in 2040. That’s a decrease of 1,527 residents.

The report draws data from population trends, real estate figures and other factors to come up with its projections. Only four other cities and towns — Middletown, Newport, Woonsocket and East Providence — are predicted to have larger population declines. In addition, Warren’s decline is predicted to be the largest in the East Bay, leading Barrington, Portsmouth and Little Compton, which each see declines from just under 1 percent to about 4.5 percent). Bristol is predicted to grow slightly, as is Tiverton.

The study looks at migration trends and demographic information to predict future growth and decline rates. It states that “the central finding … is that Rhode Island will continue to have very low or negative population growth through 2020 due to negative net migration.”

After 2020, the state “will return to higher rates of net migration and population growth through the 2020s, at which point the growing number of older residents will again cause decline in the state’s population.”

That prediction may hold true across Rhode Island, but actually bucks the expected trend in Warren, where steady population decline, with no recovery, is predicted through 2040 (see graphic).

As a whole, population statewide will remain mostly stagnant over the study period.

“Slow population growth and an aging population will have significant impacts on jobs and economic development, the housing market, the state’s health care system, and the finance of retirement benefits,” according to a statement released with the report.

Overall, Rhode Island will see a dramatic increase in its aged population, while the number of people of “working age” declines.

“Businesses, organizations, and agencies who serve seniors in Rhode Island should expect steadily increasing demand over the next 30 years.”

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