- Associated Press - Sunday, March 27, 2016

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The Columbus metro area has an estimated 2 million people now, an increase of about 1.2 percent from 2014.

The Census Bureau recent released estimates showing that the area grew from 1,997,308 to 2,021,632 in 2015, The Columbus Dispatch reported (https://bit.ly/1XSiyhL ). Cleveland’s population fell slightly to 2,060,810 people, and Cincinnati slightly increased to 2,157,719 people.

Lynnette Cook, executive director of Community Research Partners, a nonprofit group that examines communities, said an increasing number of young professionals could be driving some of the growth to the Columbus area.

The growth is “really quite exciting,” she said.

Columbus is the third-largest metropolitan area in the state and the 32nd largest in the country. It’s also the 15th largest U.S. city.

Columbus’ corporate base and higher-education system are attracting people to the area that includes Ohio’s capital, said Steve Schoeny, Columbus’ economic-development director.

“The Columbus region is responsible for the state’s growth,” he said. “It’s a key indicator of how desirable the region is.”

The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission’s insight2050 report, released last year, predicted that the region would add a half-million people by 2050.

Franklin County saw a 1.4 percent increase to 1.25 million people and neighboring Delaware County’s population jumped by nearly 2 percent in the Columbus area.

Cuyahoga County, home to Cleveland, fell 0.4 percent to about 1.25 million people.

“The difference between Franklin and Cuyahoga is, to me, the difference between a future of growth and a future of struggle,” Cook said.

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Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, https://www.dispatch.com

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