In These Times: Rural America’s Population Declines for the Sixth Straight Year

Nonmetro population loss continues for sixth yearEXCERPT: “The number of people living in rural (nonmetro) counties stood at 46.1 million in July 2016—14 percent of all U.S. residents spread across 72 percent of the Nation’s land area. The rural population declined by 21,000 between July 2015 and July 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest population estimates, the sixth consecutive year of modest population losses. Although many rural counties have shown population losses for decades, this is the first period on record of overall rural population decline . . .County population change includes two major components: natural change (births minus deaths) and net migration (in-migrants minus out-migrants). While natural change has gradually trended downward over time, net migration rates tend to fluctuate in response to economic conditions. Since 2010, the increase in rural population from natural change (270,000 more births than deaths) has not matched the decrease in population from net migration (462,000 more people moved out than moved in). Net migration rates were often much lower in the past—during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1980s—but were always offset by higher rates of natural change.”  FULL STORY: