Friday, August 04, 2017

Study says minorities drive growth in rural West

A study by rural research group Headwaters Economics found that minorities, including African Americans, Hispanics, and/or foreign-born residents, are driving rural growth in the western United States. "Analysts looked at data from the U.S. Census Bureau and compared the populations and demographics of rural counties from 1980 to 2015. Nearly every county saw a growth in minority populations, echoing the shift in demographics of the nation as a whole," Matthew Reichbach reports for New Mexico Political Report.

Hispanics are the fastest-growing demographic in the U.S. in both rural and metropolitan areas, owing to both immigration and a higher birth rate. The pronounced growth in the West may partially be due to industries such as oil and agriculture that require younger workers. "Young people move to where jobs are available," Headwaters geographer Kelly Pohl told Reichbach.
Headwaters Economics map
Some other interesting takeaways from the report:
  • 203 rural Western counties gained population, and in 39 of them it was almost completely due to minorities.
  • 75 rural Western counties lost population overall, but minority population increased in 73 of them. 
  • The number of minorities decreased in only two of the 203 rural western counties in which population grew.
  • The top five fastest-growing rural Western counties were: Nye, Nevada; Eagle, Colorado; Lyon, Nevada; Summit County, Utah, and Teton County, Idaho.
  • African American populations increased in 89 percent of rural Western counties, though at a slower rate than Hispanic or foreign-born residents.
  • Rural Western counties with the most growth in African American population are generally on and near Indian reservations or faster-growing exurban counties near metro areas.
  • The foreign-born population grew in 80 percent of rural counties. The 'foreign-born' category encompasses anyone who was not a U.S. citizen at birth, including naturalized U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, temporary migrants, humanitarian migrants, and unauthorized migrants.
  • Undocumented immigrants comprise about a quarter of the foreign-born population in both the U.S. and in the West. 
  • 85 percent of the undocumented are concentrated in urban counties of California and Arizona.

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