Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Rural counties continue to see population losses

Most rural counties suffered population loss when comparing data from 2003-2007 to 2010-14, says a report by the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Farming-dependent and manufacturing-dependent rural counties that saw population growth from 2003-2007 declined in population from 2010-14. The recession, changes in technology and aging rural populations are the main reasons for the decreases in populations. The Daily Yonder notes that non-metro counties have lost population for the fourth straight year. (USDA graphic)
Counties that rely on tourism and retirees are still growing but at a lesser rate, dropping from a growth rate of 5.1 percent from 2003-2007 to 1.4 percent from 2010-14, the report says. The oil and gas boom has spurred rural population growth in North Dakota, Texas, Montana and Pennsylvania.

But most rural counties lost population, with population growth in the Mountain West slowing for the first time in decades, the report says. For the first time, non-metro counties next to metro areas decreased in population, from gaining 900,000 people from 2003-2007, to losing 23,000 people from 2010-14.

Some of the biggest rural population declines occurred in the East, the report says. "For example, most metro counties in South Carolina maintained above average population growth through the housing crisis and recession, but non-metro areas switched from 2.1 percent growth during 2003-07 to -0.36 percent decline since 2010. Extensive areas of population decline also emerged along the North Carolina-Virginia border, in southern Ohio, and throughout New England." (USDA map)

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