Population is growing in the Central Maryland's suburban counties, though Baltimore City is losing residents, according a state review of U.S. Census data.
The Maryland Department of Planning said Thursday that between July 2012 and July 2013, Maryland gained 44,000 residents — most of them in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Howard, Montgomery and Prince George's counties.
Baltimore City, meanwhile, lost 313 residents after gaining 1,430 residents the year before — the city's first increase in years.
"It is a very modest overall population loss for the city," said Mark Goldstein, an economist for the Maryland Department of Planning. "The 1,430 gain last year was the first estimated increase in the city population for a long time."
In a statement, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake played down the decline, noting longer-term population gains in the city.
"Baltimore has grown by approximately 1,000 residents since 2010, making progress on a key goal of my administration to grow the city by 10,000 residents," Rawlings-Blake said. "We are moving in the right direction by focusing on the quality-of-life issues that matter most to residents and to grow Baltimore."
Baltimore's population now stands at 622,104.
Baltimore County gained 5,333 residents from 2012 to 2013, bringing its population to 823,015.
Fronda Cohen, a spokeswoman for Baltimore County government, said growth there has been driven by additional housing in Towson and Owings Mills, particularly with new apartment and townhouse developments.
She said those areas are close to employers and shopping with good transportation options. "It's that proximity, it's that quality of life, it's being near the amenities," Cohen said.
Baltimore County also has an advantage of highly ranked schools and a relatively low tax rate that draws new residents, Cohen said.
Howard County Executive Ken Ulman issued a statement promoting low unemployment, job growth, proximity to Fort Meade and highly rated library and school systems as factors in Howard's increase, which showed the largest percentage gain of any county. With an increase of 5,224 residents, Howard's population hit 304,580.
Anne Arundel County grew by 5,568 residents to 555,743, and County Executive Laura Neuman credited a balance of desirable neighborhoods and jobs, including many related to Fort Meade.
"Each part of the county has its own personality and that's part of the charm of the county," she said. "That provides a lot of options for potential residents."
Montgomery County had the largest growth in sheer numbers of residents, 12,209, while neighboring Prince George's followed with 8,662 new residents, according to the Maryland Department of Planning.
With the gains in Montgomery and Prince George's, as well as 1,889 new residents in Frederick County, the Washington suburbs were the state's fastest-growing area, with a 3.8 percent population gain. Southern Maryland, which grew quickly in the early 2000s, saw a 3.7 percent population gain.
Besides Baltimore City, other jurisdictions that lost population were in rural Maryland: Allegany County lost 348 resident, Kent County lost 168, Talbot County lost 109 and Queen Anne's County lost 25, according to the data.
The state attributed the population losses in Western Maryland and on the Eastern Shore to the collapse of the housing market coupled with the recession.
From 2012 to 2013, Maryland gained about 44,000 residents, according to U.S. Census data analyzed by the Maryland Department of Planning. Here's how the population changed in Baltimore-area jurisdictions.
Anne Arundel County: + 5,568 +1%
Baltimore: - 313 -0.1%
Baltimore County: + 5,333 +0.7%
Carroll County: + 354 +0.2%
Harford County: + 675 +0.3%
Howard County: + 5,224 +1.7%.
Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, Maryland Department of PlanningCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun