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Regional Synopsis

The Mo-Kan Regional Council service area consists of six counties; Andrew, Buchanan, Clinton, and DeKalb counties in Missouri, and Atchison and Doniphan counties in Kansas.

The United States Census Bureau reports for the 2000 decennial Census of Population and Housing that the Mo-Kan region has a population of 158,089. Of this population, 102,490 persons live within the St. Joseph, Missouri Metropolitan Statistical Area, and 73,990 persons live within the City of St. Joseph itself. Broken down by county, Buchanan County represents 55% of the Mo-Kan region's population, with Clinton County representing 12% and Atchison County, Kansas representing 11%. Andrew, DeKalb, and Doniphan Counties make up the remaining 22% of the region's population, with 10%, 7%, and 5% respectively.

For much of the early and mid-Twentieth Century, the livelihood of the Mo-Kan region was centered on agriculture; the mainstay of the regional economy was the family farm. This was evidenced by the rise of the City of St. Joseph as a regional trade and distribution center for locally grown commodities, particularly grain and cattle. The success of agriculture in the region spawned multiple secondary and tertiary industries.

As the Twentieth Century waned, however, a number of factors negatively impacted the agriculture-based economy of the region. Advances in technology such as improved pesticides, fertilizers, farm implements, and planting techniques dramatically increased crop yields and reduced the demand for labor. This, coupled with falling transportation costs and increases in global trade, resulted in a downward spiral of commodity prices, forcing many farmers to shutter operations. Further compounding the issue was the Farm Crisis of the early 1980s, brought about by skyrocketing interest rates and plummeting land values.

By 1990, the family farm of the region had largely been replaced by corporate farming operations able to absorb the extreme economies of scale required to compete in the global agricultural commodity markets.

The impact on the region was substantial. Communities whose livelihoods were dependent on the support of surrounding farmland witnessed substantial decreases in population. As farm families left the region in search of gainful employment in larger urban centers, so too did the agrarian support industries, such as commodity processing plants, seed distributors, and implement dealers. In turn, the decreasing population led to the closure of grocery stores, restaurants, and schools, unable to provide the same level of services with a diminished customer base.

The population of the region, though still in transition, has shown signs of improvement during the past several years. Although the region as a whole (regional population trend) has only recently seen a population upswing, Andrew, Clinton, and DeKalb counties have posted population increases since 1970. Further, Buchanan and DeKalb counties experienced moderate population increases from 1990 to 2000 (county population trends). Although the cause of these improvements cannot be easily discerned, a few geographic trends may help to explain the population increases. Primarily, the region has benefited from the growth of the Kansas City, Missouri Metropolitan Statistical Area, located adjacent to the Mo-Kan region to the south. As the Kansas City area has continued to rapidly increase in population, people continue to radiate out from the urban core, resulting in increased suburbanization of the hinterland. In particular, Clinton County has benefited from close proximity to the Kansas City Metropolitan Area and easy access to Interstate 35. Andrew County was witnessed a similar trend, with families leaving the core of St. Joseph for the more rural settings of Savannah and Country Club Village. Other trends, such as a shift towards service-based industry and an increasingly mobile workforce have contributed to the recent increase in population of the region.

Median Household Income for the Mo-Kan region, as reported for 2000 by the U.S. Census Bureau, is $35,928, below the average for the United States and the States of Missouri and Kansas. However, two counties in the Mo-Kan service area, Clinton and Andrew, enjoy median house income figures higher than the Mo-Kan average, at $41,629 and $40,688, respectively.

Mo-Kan Regional Council is an official Census Data Affiliate, and provides Census data to all member communities at no charge. Call Mo-Kan for more information.