Nonmetro population change varies across the United States
The overall rate of nonmetro population growth during 2020–21 (0.25 percent) exceeded the national rate (0.12 percent) for the first time since the mid-1990s. At the county level, however, there was regional and local variation in population change during 2020–21. Population declined in 929 nonmetro counties—nearly half of all nonmetro counties. No longer concentrated in the Great Plains and Corn Belt as in previous years, nonmetro counties with population loss during 2020–21 were found in most States, including the eastern half of the country. Population grew at rates at or above 0.12 percent in 931 nonmetro counties in 2020–21. Many of these counties are in recreation or retirement destinations, such as in the southern Appalachians and Ozarks, the upper Great Lakes, and throughout the intermountain West. Others are found adjacent to large metro areas, such as Nashville, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Dallas-Ft. Worth. However, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, higher-than-average-growing nonmetro counties were also found in all States of the Great Plains, reversing historic trends.
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