Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Census data analysis: 2/3 of rural counties lost population since 2010; share of population that is rural fell to 14%

Map by The Daily Yonder using Census data processed by The Associated Press and provided by the 2020 Census Co-Op. Click the image to enlarge it or click here for the interactive version.

The nation's rural population dropped by 280,390, or 0.6 percent, from 2010 to 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The slight decrease belies lopsided population trends: two-thirds of the nation's non-metropolitan counties lost population, "but the losses were largely offset by gains in the remaining one-third of rural counties, resulting in an overall decrease in rural population of less than 1 percent from 2010 to 2020," Tim Marema reports for The Daily Yonder. Coastal regions generally saw population increases while interior areas, notably in the Midwest, Great Plains, and Black Belt, lost population.

"The increase or decrease in population also varied by what type of metropolitan area counties were in. Nonmetropolitan (rural) counties were the only type that lost population overall. But counties in larger metropolitan areas tended to gain a larger percentage than counties in smaller metropolitan areas," Marema reports. "Besides falling in raw numbers during the decade, the proportion of the U.S. population that is rural also fell because the overall size of the U.S. population increased. As of 2020, 13.9% of the U.S. population lives in a rural or nonmetropolitan county. That’s down from 15% in 2010."

Click here for more from the Yonder, including charts, regional analysis, and an interactive county-level map.

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