Friday, May 13, 2022

Outdoor enthusiasts who retire to rural areas lift local economies and boost populations

Rural counties that grew faster than the national average
from 2010-2020. (Wall Street Journal map)
Retirees are flocking to some rural counties, boosting local economies and bucking a decade-long trend of rural population decline.

About two-thirds of rural counties lost residents from 2010 to 2020, but the populations of 162 rural counties rose by an average 13% in the past decade, far outstripping the overall U.S. growth rate of 7.4%. "About 18.5% of new arrivals in the group’s median county were ages 55 or older, a gray wave that helped stem the overall population loss in rural America, where births barely exceeded deaths from 2010 to 2020," Aaron Zitner and Dante Chinni report for The Wall Street Journal.

These select rural locales are drawing newcomers in search of mountains, lakes or other outdoor attractions, a moderate climate and a vibrant tourist trade that helps keep taxes low," Zitner and Chinni report. "Newly arrived retirees, in turn, juice local economies by driving up demand for goods and services, which create jobs in hospitality, retail, home construction, schools and hospitals.

The article examines the trend with a close-up of Sevier County, Tenn., home to Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and a lot of new silver-haired residents.

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