Courtesy of the Wood County Industrial Commission
Chana Gail Willis, Executive Director of the Wood County Industrial Commission, stated, “The rate of natural increase
(RNI) figure shows only crude (pure) reported birth and death numbers for a population area, and is a simple way to
view if a county is growing or dying.  The statistical figure of death to birth ratio is a stand alone number reflecting only
the actual recorded number of deaths in an area, versus the reported number of births.  However, the rate of natural
increase excludes migration (moving in and out) of a targeted geographical area. In demographics techniques, birth
and death rates, along with projected migration figures are used to calculate true population changes after each
Willis added, “There may other factors, too, that may skew reported RNI (births to deaths) population changes. The
community must also look the population size of its retirement aged citizenry compared to the child-bearing age
demographics.  Wood County has a large percentage of retired citizens (24.9%), and child-bearing families may go out
of Wood County to have their babies at larger hospitals with more health care assets.”
“It’s good to note, also,” Willis commented, “that from an economic development perspective, population growth should
consider migration rate, housing (single family and multifamily) building permits, existing home sales, unemployment
and employment stats, industry and business growth.  Construction is up in Wood County, and up in Texas.
Sometimes, economic professionals and business strategists will deploy incentives (financial, support services, and the
like) to keep the RNI positive.  This means, at a very basic level, if a community wants to have a thriving population
base for citizens and commerce, that community must not only attract families of child bearing age, but provide
employment in industry and build community assets and services that attract, keep and sustain that population base.”
Willis concluded, “The reported Wood County population in 2010 at 41,961, and 2012 at 42,022, a 0.57%
gain.  Some stats (Federal Reserve Bank) show as much as three times that growth rate at a 1.8% population gain in
two years.  In fact, the State of Texas’s1 2013 population projection is at 47,297 for Wood County, a 12.71%
projected growth. We are certainly seeing measured gains in growth, not losses.”