Census shows county’s population up 3 percent
Carroll County’s population grew by 3 percent from 2010 to 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Data released by the bureau last week show that the county’s population increased from 27,447 residents in 2010 to 28,260 in 2020.
“That’s pretty good,” said Carroll County Judge Sam Barr, who said Friday that he had not seen the census data before speaking with a reporter.
Barr said he wasn’t sure if the county’s population increase was large enough to qualify for increased state funding. He agreed with other local officials who said some county residents might not have been counted for a variety of reasons, including a distrust of government.
While the county’s total population increased, the number of white residents in Carroll County actually dropped by more than 10 percent according to the census data — from 24,594 in 2010 to 21,952 in 2020. While the county remains overwhelmingly white, the percentage of white residents fell from 89.6 in 2010 to 77.7 in 2020.
The number of county residents who identified themselves as Pacific Islanders increased from 39 to 444 while the county’s Asian population more than tripled, from 165 to 567. The number of residents who said they belonged to two or more races also showed a big increase, from 619 to 2,358.
The numbers of people living in the city of Berryville increased by 6.1 percent, according to the census data — growing from 5,356 in 2010 to 5,682 in 2020. But Mayor Tim McKinney said he was skeptical about those numbers.
“When we annexed that trailer park out there, we probably annexed 150-200 people just in that one spot,” McKinney said. “I think the COVID and the political atmosphere and everything, people are getting to where they hide from the government. It doesn’t matter what the government’s trying to do, thanks to all the people saying the government is attacking us.
“I thought it might be a little bit more, about 500 with the annexation and everything, but it looks like that’s going to be the number we have to live with. At least we didn’t lose something.”
McKinney, who was sworn in as president of the Arkansas Municipal League in June, said he’s hearing similar skepticism from other cities.
“I know a lot of cities, they’re feeling like they got a bad undercount,” McKinney said. “I know Harrison, they’re showing a growth of less than a hundred people in the last 10 years.”
Mirroring the trend across the county, the number of white residents in Berryville declined by 14.4 percent from 2010. The census bureau says the city’s white population was 3,743 in 2020, down from 4,375 a decade earlier. The percentage of white residents in the city declined from 81.7 to 65.9.
Berryville’s Hispanic/Latino population grew by 16.4 percent, from 1,325 to 1,542. The city’s Asian population increased from 48 to 119, while Pacific Islanders increased from 20 to 262 and the number of residents identifying themselves as belonging to two or more races increased from 137 to 531.
Eureka Springs saw a 4.5 increase in total population, from 2,073 in 2010 to 2,166 in 2020.
Mayor Butch Berry said it’s hard to say if the numbers are accurate, because he’s seen two different census figures. Berry said he’s spoken with representatives from other municipalities who believe the numbers are too low.
“I’d tend to agree with that, but I have no scientific information to back it up,” Berry said.
Like Berryville and Green Forest, Eureka Springs experienced a decline in its white population, although not as pronounced as elsewhere in the county. Eureka Springs had 1,859 white residents in 2020, according to the census bureau, compared with 1,898 in 2010. The city was 85.8 percent white in 2020, down from 91.6 percent in 2010. Eureka Springs’ Hispanic/Latino population increased from 90 to 126 and the number of residents identifying with two or more races or ethnic groups more than doubled, from 77 to 174.
Green Forest’s population increased by 7.7 percent, according to the Census Bureau, as a decrease in the number of white residents was more than offset by increases in other racial and ethnic categories.
Mayor Jerry Carlton said he believes Green Forest’s population is actually significantly higher.
“Oh, I would say it’s probably off by at least 500,” Carlton said. “I suspect fear of government among our immigrant population is the reason.”
The total number of residents in the city went from 1,924 in 2010 to 2,073 in 2020, despite a decrease of 32.2 percent in the city’s white population — which dropped from 1,530 in 2010 to 1,037 in 2020. In 2010, white residents accounted for 79.6 percent of the city’s population; in 2020, that was down to 50 percent.
The city saw an influx of Hispanic/Latino residents, an increase of 19.8 percent from 635 in 2010 to 761 in 2020. Green Forest’s Asian population increased from 19 to 202, while the number of Pacific Islanders living in the city grew from five to 45. The number of Green Forest residents who identify with two or more races increased from 51 to 292.
“I think that’s because the white population has sold their properties inside the city limits and moved out in the county,” Carlton said. “The immigrant population is buying those properties. And yes, it’s mainly Tyson employees.”
Tyson Foods, the largest employer in Carroll County, opened a second plant in Green Forest in 2017, creating an additional 85 jobs.
The population of Holiday Island increased by 6.7 percent from 2010 to 2020, growing from 2,373 residents to 2,533. The white population increased from 2,272 to 2,283 while the Hispanic/Latino population grew by 94 percent, from 67 to 130. As seen across the county, the number of Holiday Island residents who identify with two or more races or ethnicities grew dramatically, from 27 to 119.