Basic Population Statistics Question

When dealing with population level statistics, and looking for an increase or decrease in population, which would you say is **both **a more powerful and accurate measure of change? Either the raw numbers or a percent change in population?

Below are two very crude maps I am working on illustrating this using natural breaks 5 classes, which I will probably refine to equal interval or user defined intervals later on.

Many thanks for any input

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v1...omparedjpe.jpg