Friday, April 17, 2015

USDA graphic shows that urban migration is the main cause of rural population loss

The Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported last week that rural population was down for the fourth year in a row, largely due to the loss of oil and coal jobs. ERS released a chart this week that takes a closer look at rural population changes, examining total population change, the number of births compared to the number of deaths and total net migration.

The graphic shows that the majority of population changes in rural areas are the result of people choosing to move away, not because the number of deaths exceeds the number of births, Tim Marema reports for the Daily Yonder. At the same time, metro areas are seeing growth in both natural increase (births over deaths) and migration (folks moving in from other areas).

"If urban sprawl was causing this population gain, we'd expect to see the counties closer to urban areas growing at a faster rate," Marema writes. "That's not happening. Rather than benefiting from economic spillover from a metropolitan area, these counties may have generated their own conditions. Have those conditions staunched the flow of out-migration to a dribble and contributed to a higher birth rate? That's a question worth exploring." (ERS graphic)

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