The rural population has been dropping in many places over the last few decades. The newest data from the 2009 American Community Survey shows the continuation of this trend, particularly in rural counties in the Heartland:
But the [Los Angeles] Times analysis of the numbers shows unequivocally that a thick swath of the country, from north Texas to the Dakotas, has lost population…
Data show that many counties in the Great Plains are also experiencing a loss of young people. Johnson said that trend was probably creating a “downward spiral” of population loss in these areas since the young weren’t sticking around to bear children.
“The only thing that might break them out of it,” he said, “is an influx of young Hispanics.”
There is also mention of a few areas, such as Spencer County, Kentucky, or Teton County, Idaho, where generally wealthier residents have actually increased the population.
This data doesn’t really come as a surprise. Small town America has been gone for quite a while now as multiple generations have left rural areas for cities and suburbs. America is a suburban nation today as these places offer jobs, decent schools, single-family homes, and everything else that is part of the suburban “good life.”
(A side note: I’m really enjoying all these news stories based on the American Community Survey data. This relatively recent survey from the Census will be doing more and more in the future as the decennial census is relied on less and less. Maybe news organizations think these sorts of stories are easy to put together or perhaps lots of readers really are interested in a deeper understanding of the complex United States.)