Prince George's County, which grew more dramatically than any other area jurisdiction during the boom years of the 1960s, lost 34,000 more residents than it gained between 1970 and 1976, according to the latest figures from the U.S. census bureau.
The figure was derived from numerous sources including school, tax, birth and death records.
"I finally said to heck with it," explained Charles L. Jaeger, a 60-year-old retired linotype operator who put his $50,000 home up for sale this summer and joined the thousands of other county residents who have decided to leave Prince George's County.
Jaeger stood on his front porch yesterday in a quiet College Park neighborhood explaining how the county's property taxes, which are the second highest in the state - have forced him and his wife to sell their home and head for North Carolina.
"I got tired of fighting the higher costs," he said.
Demographers, statisticists, politicians and urban researchers cite a complex mixture of reasons for the change in Prince Georges's County's migration pattern:
Prince George's County has a high number of apartment dwellers, which represents a highly mobile population.
A sewer moratorium has brought housing construction to a standstill and has forced homeseeking residents to go elsewhere.
The 1973 court-ordered busins plan in the county as well as the interesting migration of blacks to Prince George's has prompted a growing number of white families to leave country.
The property tax rate of Prince George's County, the third highest in the state of Maryland, has also been cited as a reason for the out-migration.
The census update comes at a time when Prince George's County government officials have just started a $34,000 radio advertising campaign that touts the country's virtues in an effort to instill community pride.
The voices of upheat residents explain how the services and life-styles in Prince George's County "located right next to Washington, D.C."make the county a desirable place to live.
County Executive Winfield Kelly, who said that the "New Quality" advertising campaign has nothing to do with the migration, last week cited several why he felt migration figures were "not that significant."
"I believe the figures mostly demonstrate mostrate movement of apartment dwellers out to the county," Kelly said. "Prince George's County is a very transient jurisdiction with people constantly moving from multi-family dwellings."
Kelly also said the series of sewer moratorium contributed to the large out-migration of county residents.
Kelly said the sewer moratoriums contributed to out-migration because young families in apartments could not more out into new homes in the county.
Clarence Vogel, a 56-year-old Lanham resident, had his own reason for leaving the county. He said he puts his $50,000 hhhome up for sale and is leaving the county because "They want to bus my 10-year-old daughter."
Vogel denied that he was moving because his daughter would have been transferred to a school that was predominantly black. However some demographers indicate that there has been an increase in the number of white families leaving the county, and a simultaneous increase in the number of back families move in.
Figures from the Maryland Center for Health Stastistics indicate that 73,766 whites left Prince George's County betweenn 1970 and 1973 while 93,290 blacks came into the county during the same period.
But there is disagreement over the significance of these figures.
"There is an indictation that there was some sensitiveness about blacks moving into Prince George's County" said George Grier, who developed a 1974 population sample of Prince George's County for the metropolitan Washington Center for Urban Studies.
Grier and a spokeman for the Metropolitan Washington Planning Houssing Association said they did not know how much impact this had, but that some whites saw the county as a "dumping ground for low-income groups and blacks."
County Executive Kelly, however, said Prince George's county "is integrating nicely." He said he feared that a story that mentioned that whites were laving the county would turn into a "self-fulfilling fact."
This latest figure concerning migration shows a sharp contrast from the boom era of the 1960s when garden-style apartments sprouted everywhere and the population growth rate hit 85 per cent.
The county had developed a national reputation for growth since its rapidly increasing figures were topped only by those of Orange County, Calif.
The population jumped from 320,000 in 1957 to more 630,000 in 1970 and the county was forced to build an average of a classroom a day to meet the county's growth needs.
But things have changed since the 1960s. This year the Prince Goerge's County school system - the 10th largest in the nation - had to close 10 elementary schools because a declining enrollment.
Forecast for steady growth in Prince George's County may now have to be revised, several stastisticians say.
The reversal in the county's migration figures contrast with other Maryland surburban growth figures for the same period. In Montgomery County, the census data show an increase of 31,7000 persons or 6.1 per cent. Anne Arundel County's net migration increased by 11.3 per cent and Charles County by 24.7 per cent.
The Prince George's County migration figures are similar, however, to figures from some other jurisdictions in the Washington metropolitan area.
According to a recent census report for the years 1970-74, the District of Columbia had a 6.9 per cent drop in net migration, while Arlington and Alexandria dropped 14.9 per cent and 7.3 per cent, respectively.
Both Mongomery and Fairfax counties increased their net migration. Mongomery County, according to the latest census report, increased its net migration between 1970 and 1976 by 6.1 per cent. According to another census report. Fairfax County increased its net migration by 8.8 per cent.
Nationally bit cities are losing population to surburban areas, according to demographers, and they report a population shift toward the South and West in search of jobs.