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Buffalo's population dips by 1,000<br> Census' 2008-09 estimates find city continuing decade-long slide

Buffalo's population fell by nearly 1,000 people in the year ending last July, according to the latest U.S. Census estimates, continuing a decade-long population slide for the Queen City and other upstate cities.

Buffalo lost 21,970 residents between 2000 and 2009, a period when its rank among the nation's largest cities fell from 59th to 70th. It was the 50th largest city in 1990 and the eighth-largest at the turn of the last century.

The city's population stood at 270,240 as of July 1, 2009, according to Census Bureau estimates.

Mayor Byron W. Brown said it's no surprise that decades of economic decline have taken a toll on the city's population, but he believes there are some positive signs on the horizon.

"I will not be deterred in my determination to make Buffalo stronger, safer and smarter," Brown said in a prepared statement. "We have had success in recent years and I am confident that success will make Buffalo an attractive place to live, work and raise a family now and for years to come."

Census officials on Tuesday released the latest population estimates for the nation's cities and villages.

Locally, Niagara Falls saw its population fall by just 21 people between 2008 and 2009, while Jamestown's fell by 63 residents, and Lackawanna's fell by 69 over the same period.

The bureau each year releases updated population estimates. Detailed results of the 2010 Census, now under way, won't be released until next year.

Pay closer attention to those numbers, said Kathryn A. Foster, director of the University at Buffalo Regional Institute.

The numbers released Tuesday are based on updated 2000 figures, so it's hard to provide accurate estimates this far into the decade, Foster said.

"This is the last set of estimates before you get the census," Foster said, "so these are the most uncertain estimates you get in any decade."

New York City remains the nation's largest city and saw its population rise by 45,000 residents, to 8.39 million, between 2008 and 2009.

The other cities in the top five -- Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Phoenix -- also saw population increases over the prior year.

Elsewhere in upstate, Rochester's population stood at 207,294, a drop of just 54 from 2008, and Syracuse's population was 138,560, a fall of 69 from the previous year.

Albany's population rose by 368 between 2008 to 2009, to 93,836, the Census estimated.

In this area, Niagara Falls had 51,295 residents in 2009, a decline of 4,215 people since 2000. Jamestown's population of 29,355 last year was 2,548 less than the 2000 figure and Lackawanna's population of 17,539 was 1,487 less than the level in 2000.

If there is any consolation for Buffalo and the other cities in Western New York, it is that the region's population decline seems to have slowed in the latter part of the decade.

Buffalo's population decline between 2008 and 2009 of 980 people represented just 0.36 percent of its population.

Still, Buffalo sits at 70th in the country and has been passed in size over the last decade by Plano, Texas; Newark, N.J.; Anchorage, Alaska; and Stockton, Calif.

News Staff Reporter Jay Rey contributed to this report.


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