Cleveland Population Falls to 372,624, Lowest Since 1800s, City Council to Lose Two Seats

click to enlarge Rand McNally Road Atlas comes to Cleveland. - Sam Allard / Scene
Sam Allard / Scene
Rand McNally Road Atlas comes to Cleveland.
The 2020 U.S. Census numbers are in, and they are bad! For the seventh consecutive decade, the city of Cleveland has lost population. With a reported total of 372,624, Cleveland's population fell by 6% from its population in 2010 (396,815). The city hasn't been home to this few people since the 1800s.

Though the rate of Cleveland's downward spiral has slowed — Cleveland plummeted by more than 17% between 2000-2010 — the recent losses are especially discouraging in light of modest gains in four of Cuyahoga's contiguous counties and in Ohio's other big cities. Both Columbus (+14.6%) and Cincinnati (+4.3%) saw significant population gains since 2010.

Though there have been fears about the accuracy of the 2020 count, in part due to challenges caused by the pandemic, the Cleveland population now falls below the 375,000 threshold at which Cleveland City Council is required, by charter, to redistrict.

The current 17 council wards will be reconfigured into 15 wards by the 2025 election. A City Council spokeswoman said that census results would have had to have been submitted by Feb. 16, 2021 and the new ward map created by April 1 for redistricting to affect this year's election.

Redistricting can be a laborious and bitter process. Former City Council President Marty Sweeney oversaw the last city council redistricting in 2013, and he was accused of protecting his own political interests while failing to keep historic neighborhoods intact in the final map. In particular, Sweeney carved up the east side to create the current Ward 10 as a reward for council loyalist Eugene Miller. Miller went on to lose to Jeff Johnson in the following election.

Creating a new map that satisfies a legislative body known for its territorialism and fierce self-preservation, while also maintaining racial balance, will be a challenge for the incoming council president. 

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About The Author

Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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