#152. Rural America at a Glance

Posted on | The Agurban
Rural America at a Glance

The United States Department of Agriculture recently published a report that looked at various aspects of life in rural America. The key elements explored included Rural Population Growth, Employment/Unemployment, Poverty, Adult Educational Attainment, Creative Occupations and the Growth of the Ethanol Industry. This week we would like to focus on the first element, Rural Population Growth.

According to the report between July 2005 and July 2006, the population of nonmetro America grew by 318,000 people. This 0.6-percent annual increase (triple the growth rate from the beginning of the decade) is below the metro growth rate for the same period (1 percent) but is well above the nonmetro annual growth rate of 0.2 percent at the beginning of the decade. The upturn is due entirely to an increase in net domestic migration-the number of people moving from metro counties to nonmetro destinations minus those moving in the opposite direction.

– In 2001-02, 40,000 more people moved into nonmetro counties from metro locations than moved out. In that year, the gain from domestic migration was less than that from either international immigration or natural population increase (births – deaths). However, the annual net flow from metro areas grew to nearly 150,000 by 2005-06, thus contributing more to overall nonmetro population growth than immigration (62,000) or natural increase (107,000).

– Nonmetro population gains from net domestic migration were highest in western locations that combine scenic attributes with tourism, recreation, second-home development, and retirement migration. Amenities combined with proximity to metro jobs fueled rapid growth in many parts of the nonmetro South, including the Texas Hill Country, southern Appalachia, the Florida coast, and northern Virginia.

– Of the 2,070 U.S. nonmetro counties, the number losing population from net domestic migration declined from 1,157 in 2000-01 to 885 in 2005-06. Net migration loss continued in counties with very high poverty, such as in the Mississippi Delta and Rio Grande Valley, and in sparsely settled agricultural counties in the Nation’s heartland. In addition to experiencing high outmigration among young adults, an increasing number of Great Plains and Corn Belt counties are losing population through natural decrease-more deaths than births-which reflects an aging population.

– Counties dependent on mining or manufacturing switched from net migration losses to net migration gains during the past 5 years. Farming-dependent counties continued to show an overall net migration loss in 2005-06, although not as severe as in 2001- 02. Nonmetro counties with more diverse, service- based economies are better able to retain current residents and attract newcomers. These counties- which predominantly rely on recreation and tourism- experienced four times the rate of net domestic migration in 2005-06 as did nonmetro counties as a whole.

We are excited to see these positive population changes for rural America. As I travel around the country, I continue to see many of these growing rural communities. These communities are working hard to be successful and my goal is to get the word out that great things continue to happen in Rural America!

Source:Ā www.ers.usda.gov