Rural America ends first-ever period of population loss

Population change by metro and nonmetro status, 1979–2019

Between July 2018 and July 2019, rural (nonmetro) counties as a whole continued a very small increase in population that began a year earlier, following seven years of population decline. The gains in population have been quite small, a 0.02-percent increase in 2018-19 following a 0.04-percent gain in 2017-18. This contrasts with first-ever declines in nonmetro population that occurred from 2010-17, when annual population losses averaged -0.08 percent per year. (These most recent county population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau (as of March 26, 2020) reflect revisions to previous data.) Population growth rates for rural areas have been significantly lower than in urban (metro) areas since the mid-1990s, and the gap widened considerably after the housing-market crisis in 2007 and the Great Recession that followed. The gap between rural and urban growth rates has narrowed slightly in recent years but remains significant. The post-recession recovery in population growth for rural America during this decade has been much more gradual compared with previous post-recession periods.

Download higher resolution chart (4158 pixels by 3325, 600 dpi)