According to the 2013 Demographic Snapshot of the Lake of the Ozarks area compiled by the Lake of the Ozarks Regional Economic Development Council (LOREDC), the three-county region is on track to hit 100,000 residents shortly before 2030, but 2010 U.S. Census numbers may indicate the population benchmark is more likely to occur around 2020 or even sooner.
Milestone population markers such as 100,000 residents are one factor in large scale commercial development.
At the time of the 2010 Census, the populations of Camden, Morgan and Miller counties totaled 89,315.
The 2013 demographic snapshot utilized a 2008 state population projection study by the Missouri Office of Administration. While LOREDC replaced the study's 2010 figures with actual numbers from the 2010 Census, it left the population projections for 2020 and 2030 the same, not taking into account the higher than estimated actual population of Camden County in 2010 and the greater growth rate there.
The 2010 Census data shows that the study underestimated Camden County's growth rate between 2000 and 2010. The under-projected growth rate not only placed the county's actual 2010 population above estimations but may also compound to make the study's future projections more and more off.
The 2008 study projected an approximately 12 percent increase in population in Camden County from 2000 to 2010, estimating a total of 41,660. Census figures show the county's population at 44,002 in 2010, an actual increase of close to 19 percent.
While some of that increase may be attributed to an undercount in 2000, the rate of growth in Camden County since the 1950 Census averages out to approximately 34 percent every 10 years.
The study's projections for Morgan and Miller counties' populations, however, were slightly overestimated.
An approximately 8 percent growth rate between 2000 and 2010 for Miller County was projected, but the county actually saw an increase of 5 percent. Morgan County likewise had a projected rate increase of close to 11 percent with an actual rate increase of 7 percent.
But if Camden County mimics its last decennial growth rate and sees a growth rate of 19 percent in the decade leading up to 2020, it will push the region's population to 100,000 despite perhaps slower than anticipated growth rates in the other two counties.
Assuming the growth rates for all three counties from 2010 to 2020 stay the same as they were from 2000 to 2010 (19 percent in Camden, 7 percent in Morgan and 5 percent in Miller), the lake area population in 2020 would be around 100,352.
The state study projects the population of the tri-county area to be 96,924 in 2020 then 100,065 in 2025 and 102,355 in 2030.
Those numbers utilize a growth rate for Camden County between 2010 and 2020 of 11 percent and a rate of 6 percent between 2020 and 2030. In Morgan County, a 9 percent increase was estimated between 2010 and 2020 and about 6 percent between 2020 and 2030. The study projects a rate increase of almost 7 percent between 2010 and 2020 and about 4 percent between 2020 and 2030 for Miller County.