Demographics of Dayton, Ohio

Introduction

Dayton is the sixth largest city in Ohio and the county seat of Montgomery County. As of the 2020 census, the city had a population of around 140,000 residents.

Dayton has a diverse population and economy that has evolved over its history from its early days as a trading post to becoming a center of innovation and industry. Here is an in-depth look at the demographics and population statistics of Dayton.

Population and Growth

The population of Dayton peaked in the 1960s at over 260,000 residents. Since then, the population has been declining slowly but steadily along with other Rust Belt cities.

Factors influencing this decline include suburbanization, loss of manufacturing jobs, and migration patterns.

Here are some key population facts about Dayton:

  • 2020 Census population: 140,371
  • 2010 Census population: 141,527
  • 2000 Census population: 166,179
  • 1990 Census population: 182,044

Dayton saw its heyday of population and economic growth between 1950 and 1970. During this time, the population increased over 20% each decade, fueled by auto manufacturing, aerospace and aviation industries. The population peaked in 1960 at 262,332 residents.

Starting in the 1970s, Dayton began losing residents to the suburbs and other regions. Between 1970 and 1980, the population declined 15%. This decline continued in the following decades, though at a slower pace, with losses of 13% between 1980 and 1990, and 7% between 2000 and 2010.

The current population decline has leveled off in recent years. Dayton’s population only dropped 1% between 2010 and 2020. While growth has stagnated, the free fall of post-industrial decline seems to have slowed. Some even see signs of revitalization downtown.

Racial and Ethnic Diversity

Dayton has become increasingly racially and ethnically diverse over the past few decades. Here is the breakdown of the racial demographics of Dayton from the 2020 Census:

  • White: 47.3%
  • Black or African American: 42.9%
  • Hispanic or Latino (of any race): 3.7%
  • Asian: 2.4%
  • Two or more races: 2.7%
  • Other race: 0.5%
  • Native American: 0.3%

In 1990, nearly 60% of Dayton’s population was white and 38% was African American. So the city has seen a notable decline in the white population offset by growth in minority populations. While still the majority, the white population is rapidly approaching being a plurality.

The Hispanic/Latino population has nearly doubled over the last 20 years. This mirrors national trends where Hispanic and Latino individuals are one of the fastest growing demographics.

The Asian population has also grown steadily in Dayton, though it remains a small segment overall.

Age and Sex

In terms of age, Dayton has an older population than the U.S. average, but not dramatically so. Here is the breakdown by age group, compared to national percentages:

Age GroupDaytonU.S.
Under 18 years22.1%22.3%
18-64 years62.3%61.5%
65+ years15.6%16.2%

Dayton has a slightly smaller segment of children under 18 and a slightly higher percentage of working-age adults compared to the nation. The percentage over 65 is very close to the U.S. average.

The median age in Dayton is 34.9 years old. This is just above the U.S. median of 38.1 years.

In terms of sex and gender demographics, Dayton is 51.7% female and 48.3% male. This closely mirrors the U.S. gender breakdown of 50.8% female, 49.2% male.

Households and Families

There are around 61,000 households in Dayton. Over half of these are family households while 41% are non-family households.

Of the family households, 29% are married couples living together, while 17% are single parent (usually female-led) families. Around 13% of households consist of someone living alone who is over the age of 65.

The average household size is 2.27 persons. This is smaller than the U.S. average household size of 2.6, indicating more single adult and senior households.

Education

Dayton has lower educational attainment levels compared to national averages:

  • High school graduate or higher: 84% (U.S. – 88%)
  • Bachelor’s degree or higher: 26% (U.S. – 32%)

The largest share of residents have a high school diploma or some college but no degree. Only around 1 in 4 residents have a bachelor’s degree, versus nearly 1 in 3 nationally.

Income and Poverty

Dayton suffers from lower incomes and higher poverty rates than national averages:

  • Median household income: $35,000 (U.S. – $65,000)
  • Per capita income: $26,000 (U.S. – $35,000)
  • Poverty rate: 25% (U.S. – 11%)

Nearly 1 in 4 Dayton residents live below the poverty line. And median incomes are roughly half the national median. These indicators underscore the economic challenges facing the city.

Some of the main factors are loss of manufacturing jobs, lower education levels, and population decline shrinking the tax base. Income inequality and uneven access to economic opportunity remain ongoing issues for Dayton.

Employment

Despite recent challenges, Dayton still has a diverse economic base of healthcare, education, manufacturing, and aerospace employment.

Here is the breakdown of Dayton’s workforce by occupation:

  • Management, business, science, arts: 30%
  • Sales and office support: 26%
  • Service sector: 22%
  • Production and transportation: 13%
  • Natural resources and construction: 9%

Healthcare is the largest industry, employing around 1 in 6 Dayton workers. Manufacturing accounts for around 13% of jobs, down from historical highs but still a significant sector. Education, retail, and hospitality services round out most of the remaining workforce.

The unemployment rate in Dayton as of December 2022 was 4.1%, on par with the national rate of 3.5%. Job growth has been slow in recent years compared to other parts of Ohio and the U.S.

Conclusion

In summary, Dayton is a mid-sized Rust Belt city that has experienced decades of population and economic decline, while becoming more racially diverse.

The city faces ongoing challenges with lower incomes, education levels, and higher poverty compared to national averages. But Dayton retains strengths in manufacturing, healthcare, education and is focused on targeted revitalization of its downtown and neighborhoods.

Understanding the demographics provides insights into shaping an equitable future for Dayton residents.

Neighborhoods and Districts

Dayton is divided into a number of distinct neighborhoods and districts, each with their own character, demographics, and identity. Here is an overview of some of the notable areas of Dayton:

Downtown Dayton

  • Central business district and cultural center
  • Home to government offices, museums, performing arts venues
  • Revitalization efforts underway to attract residents and businesses

Oregon District

  • Historic neighborhood near downtown with restaurants, bars, and shops
  • Young professional and artistic vibe
  • Site of 2019 mass shooting that spurred community rebuilding

Carillon District

  • Residential historic district near downtown and Carillon Park
  • Mostly single-family homes, tree-lined streets
  • Largely middle and upper-middle class area

University of Dayton Area

  • Neighborhoods around UD campus
  • Mostly student rentals and off-campus housing
  • Streetscape dominated by campus facilities

Fairgrounds Neighborhood

  • Historically African American neighborhood near the Dayton fairgrounds
  • Faced decline but still retains local businesses and pride
  • Home to several Black cultural centers

Edgemont and Shroyer Park

  • Postwar suburbs on western edge of Dayton
  • 1950s-60s ranch homes and residential areas
  • More affluent suburban neighborhoods

Sinclair Community College Area

  • Area around Sinclair CC campus
  • Mix of campus buildings, residential, some strip malls
  • Dayton’s largest community college

Air Park

  • Neighborhood around Dayton International Airport
  • Mostly industrial and warehousing businesses
  • Adjacent neighborhoods affected by noise

This is just a sampling of some of the distinct areas and neighborhoods around Dayton. From inner-city districts to historic suburbs, the different areas reflect the diversity of the city itself.

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Directions

  • Start out going east on E 3rd St toward S Patterson Blvd in downtown Dayton. Turn right to merge onto S Patterson Blvd. Take I-75 N ramp on the left to Cincinnati. Merge onto I-75 N and drive for about 5 miles. Take exit 50A for Siebenthaler Ave toward N Fairfield Rd. Turn left onto Siebenthaler Ave. The destination will be on the right.
  • Begin at Riverscape MetroPark in downtown Dayton and head north on S Patterson Blvd. Take the I-75 N ramp on the left toward Cincinnati. Merge onto I-75 N and drive approximately 5 miles. Use the right 2 lanes to take exit 50A for Siebenthaler Ave. Turn left onto Siebenthaler Ave. Continue on Siebenthaler Ave for half a mile and the destination will be on your right.
  • Start at the Dayton Art Institute in downtown Dayton. Head east on E Monument Ave toward S Patterson Blvd. Turn right onto S Patterson Blvd. Take the I-75 N ramp on the left to Cincinnati. Merge onto I-75 N and drive for 5 miles. Take exit 50A for Siebenthaler Ave toward N Fairfield Rd. Turn left onto Siebenthaler Ave. 117 E Siebenthaler Ave will be on the right just past Danner Ave.