Friday, April 14, 2017

Rural population declined in 2016, but rural counties near cities kept seeing increases

Yonder graphic: Rate of change in non-metro population
While Census Bureau data shows that the nation's rural population in dropped for the fifth straight year in 2016, rural counties located near cities saw an increase in population in 2016, Tim Marema and Bill Bishop report for the Daily Yonder. Kenneth M. Johnson, chief demographer at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire said "for the past 40 or 50 years, it’s been normal for rural counties adjacent to metro areas to grow more quickly than counties located farther from cities, but until the most recent estimates came out, the opposite has been true following the Great Recession."

Johnson told the Yonder, "To me, that’s the biggest news about rural America. It's still losing people, but it’s increasingly because of what’s going on in the remote rural counties. If it’s re-emerging, that could mean the larger population trend of modest growth from rural counties will return as well."

The overall rural population decline was small, a total of 21,000 residents, or 0.05 percent, the smallest drop in the five years, the Yonder reports. "The net change is so small that it could be reversed by adjustments in the estimates that occur in future years." (Yonder map: Population change from 2015-16)

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