Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Small cities, rural areas becoming more diverse

The rural U.S. is quickly becoming more diverse as minorities move out of major cities and into smaller towns and rural areas, according to a study released last week. The trend is being led by large Hispanic and Asian populations nationwide.

The study looked at the 15,000 jurisdictions in the country that govern their own fiscal affairs, which are disproportionately rural, 82.6 percent were mostly white in 2010. That was a drop from 93.4 percent in 1980. Localities where whites made up at least 90 percent of the population fell to 36 percent from 65.8.

The study is part of the US 2010 Project at Brown University and is a series of demographic studies by academics across the country. It's the latest study showing that suburbs, small cities and rural areas are now "on the front lines of changing demographics and culture," Conor Dougherty and Miriam Jordan of The Wall Street Journal report.

The trend is "striking in rural areas where white populations are shrinking as young people leave and the elderly who stay die," Haya El Nasser of USA Today reports. As minority populations move into these areas, their children alter community dynamics. Many rural schools have added classes in English as a second language, and social-service agencies have hired translators, El Nasser reports. "There are literally hundreds of American counties that would be losing population if it were not for minority growth," University of New Hampshire Carsey Institute demographer Kenneth Johnson said. "This diversity is bringing them young people they had been losing for a long time and new opportunities." (Read more)

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