Friday, March 28, 2014

Why Are Urban Counties Growing?

The nation's most urban counties are growing faster than others, according to a Demo Memo analysis of the Census Bureau's 2013 county population estimates. Counties in metro areas with the largest populations are growing the fastest—a 3 percent increase between 2010 and 2013. Counties in smaller metros are growing at a slower rate, and those in rural areas are losing people.

What is behind these trends? One reason for the strong growth of the nation's urban counties is domestic migration: Americans are voting with their feet for city life. The rate of domestic migration in the 2010-to-2013 time period was positive only for the most urban counties, those ranking a 1 or 2 on the Rural-Urban Continuum (counties in metro areas with 250,000 or more people). For less urban and rural counties, the domestic migration rate was negative—meaning more Americans moved out than moved in. Not only are less urban and rural counties losing residents to migration, but in the most rural counties—those ranking 8 or 9 on the Rural-Urban Continuum—deaths exceeded births in the 2010-to-2013 time period. This  double whammy is resulting in historic population losses in the nation's small towns and countryside.

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