Monday, April 05, 2010

Forecasts of declining rural population make responses to census more important

Rural areas may need to be particularly diligent in returning census forms. One Iowa researcher is predicting further population declines for many rural areas of the state, and that finding could apply to other states. When the government released its 2009 population estimates last month, it revised downward some estimates for rural Iowa counties, Jens Manuel Krogstad of The Des Moines Register reports.

Sandra Charvat Burke, a researcher with Iowa State University's Community Vitality Center, told Krogstad that data suggests results from the 2010 census will show Iowa's rural population to be far lower than previously thought. Some prognosticators still think a slight uptick in rural Iowa population may be possible as "data from the first half of the last decade showed slight population increases in areas of southern Iowa that had been in decline for more than a century," Krogstad writes. Hope lies with retiring baby boomers who move to rural areas, boosting population and the local economy. (Read more)

New York Daily News columnist Errol Louis sees a trend of decline in both rural and urban America. "Armed with fresh numbers, America will be forced to confront the harsh reality that a great many urban and rural areas have passed a tipping point and appear destined for long-term decline," he writes. "We will have to embark on a touchy national conversation about how — and whether — these failing places will receive public and private investment." (Read more)

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