Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Economic slowdown cuts rural-to-urban migration

The economic downturn has slowed the out-migration of rural inhabitants to urban areas, a phenomenon that has threatened the viability of many small communities. "The Census Bureau reported that the number of people who changed residences declined to 35.2 million from March 2007 to March 2008, the lowest number since 1962, when the nation had 120 million fewer people," reports the McCook Daily Gazette in Nebraska.

It has been widely accepted that jobs were the main reason that rural residents, mostly young, moved to urban centers. But the recession has changed all that. "The economy is probably the main reason, of course -- few people will chance a move unless they are certain a solid job opportunity awaits," the Gazette notes. But there may be other factors.

More people in rural areas own homes, which decreases the likelihood that they will move; rural areas have more families with two incomes, making it more difficult to find jobs for both spouses in a new location; and the median age of Americans is rising, rural populations tend to be older, and older people are less likely to move. All these coupled with the struggling economy mean more rural inhabitants are staying put. (Read more)

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