The South Western Regional Planning Agency (SWRPA) has issued a report on "People and Places of the South Western Region of Connecticut."

The report highlights recently released 2005-2009 Census American Community Survey data and Census 2010 data pertinent to the region, comparing the data to that of 2000.

It compares regional to statewide data and is broken into the overarching categories of Demographic, Housing, Economic and Transportation data. Key findings include:

Regional population growth slowed from 2000-2010; total population increased by 10,963 (3.2 percent), as compared to 23,621 (7.2 percent) from 1990-2000. This could be due to the "built out" nature of many of the region's municipalities, the report said.

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Asian and Hispanic populations increased significantly in the last decade (53.4 percent, 54.2 percent, respectively), while white (-2.2 percent) and African-American (-3.1 percent) populations decreased slightly. Foreign-born population comprises 23.5 percent of the region's overall population, almost twice that of Connecticut (12.8 percent). The number of residents with limited English proficiency also increased, according to the report.

The region showed a continuing decrease of population in the 25-44 age groups, and an increase in the 45-64 age groups. The region needs to position itself to be more attractive to persons in the 25-44 age groups, since the presence of younger workers is essential to support the increasing need for services to the aging population.

Only 68.4 percent of the region's residents drive alone to work, compared with the state average of 79.4 percent. The region's public transit usage of 14 percent is more than three times greater than that of the state, at 4.3 percent. Use of public transit has increased by 7.8 percent in the region since 2000. Modes of commuting and travel times are directly affected by proximity to New York City. Further efforts should be made to accommodate the growing demand for transit, the report said.

The percentage of the region's population that have a bachelor's degree or higher is 53.1 percent, as compared to the state percentage of 35.1 percent. All towns in the region have a higher percentage of residents 25 years and older with a bachelor's degree or higher than that of the state, with Weston having the highest percentage of 80 percent. Efforts to enhance the region's attractiveness to educated professionals would ensure that these persons continue to settle in the region, according to the report.

In general, Stamford and Norwalk exhibit greater ethnic diversity, lower median incomes, smaller household sizes, and a lesser percentage of residents having completed higher education than the region's smaller municipalities. Despite these differences, an aging population and increased population with limited English proficiency are common regional issues that must be addressed.

Collaboration and cooperation between municipalities is essential to addressing these regional issues in an effective manner heading into the future, the report said.

The findings are available at www.swrpa.org. For more information on the report, contact Will Palmquist (palmquist@swrpa.org) or Adam Hlasny (hlasny@swrpa.org), at 203-316-5190.