By J. K. Schmid, Special to the AFRO

The US Census Bureau released troubling population estimates for Baltimore City, Thursday.

Figures gathered through July 1, 2018 reveal that Baltimore’s population now hovers just above 600,000 citizens. It is a low not seen since before the first Great Migration.

Baltimore City, once a prosperous port and industry powerhouse, saw its population peak in the 1950s at nearly a million residents.

Since then, White flight, followed by Black flight, have winnowed away the city’s body as crime and poverty increased and wealth vanished.

A Baltimore population migrating to neighboring counties, limits what Baltimore can demand in terms of state and federal resources.

“The government uses the Census to decide how to allocate over $400 billion in state and federal funds,” The Mayor’s Office said via press release before Catherine E. Pugh took a leave of absence. “For every person not counted in the 2020 Census, Baltimore will lose $1,800 per person per year. In FY16 alone, over $16 billion was budgeted throughout 53 Large Census-guided Programs across the state, with the majority of those funds going to Baltimore.”

The final count is so critical, the city appealed the last census gaining just over hundred citizens.

The official census begins April 2020. Before vacating her post, the mayor hoped for a 73 percent participation rate.

““Essential to the success of Baltimore City is ensuring we receive all of the Federal resources we are due,” Then Mayor Catherine E. Pugh, said in the release. “The only way for us to achieve this goal is by having each and every Baltimorean participate in the 2020 Census and be counted. These Federal resources are critical to essential programs and initiatives, in Baltimore, that serve all citizens.”

Efforts to staunch the flow of citizens out of the city have met with mixed results.

Former Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake welcoming positioning to international immigration allowed for gains in new residents, but the city’s population remains in uninterrupted decline since 2015 according to the same census estimates.

While the broader picture is grim, the city aims to make the most of the census upcoming with a plan that “outlines how and where Census outreach will be delivered, with a focus on our hard-to-count communities such as: children under the age of 5, low-English proficiency residents, homeless citizens, senior citizens, and Black males between the ages of 18 and 29 years-old,” the Mayor’s Office said.

The Baltimore Complete Count Committee Action Plan, described as a “living document,” will be available for public comment through the end of April.