The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

State, national, world

June 13, 2013

Census: Rural U.S. loses population for first time

WASHINGTON — Rural America is losing population for the first time ever, largely because of waning interest among baby boomers in moving to far-flung locations for retirement and recreation, according to new census estimates.

Long weighed down by dwindling populations in farming and coal communities and the movement of young people to cities, rural counties are being hit by sputtering growth in retirement and recreation areas, once residential hot spots for baby boomers.

The new estimates, as of July 2012, show that would-be retirees are opting to stay put in urban areas near jobs. Recent weakness in the economy means some boomers have less savings than a decade ago to buy a vacation home in the countryside, which often becomes a full-time residence after retirement. Cities are also boosting urban living, a potential draw for boomers who may prefer to age closer to accessible health care.

About 46.2 million people, or 15 percent of the U.S. population, reside in rural counties, which spread across 72 percent of the nation's land area. From 2011 to 2012, those non-metro areas lost more than 40,000 people, a 0.1 percent drop. The Census Bureau reported a minuscule 0.01 percent loss from 2010 to 2011, but that was not considered statistically significant and could be adjusted later.

Rural areas, which include manufacturing and farming as well as scenic retirement spots, have seen substantial movement of residents to urban areas before. But the changes are now coinciding with sharp declines in U.S. birth rates and an aging population, resulting in a first-ever annual loss.

U.S. migration data show that older Americans are most inclined to live in rural counties until about age 74, before moving closer to more populated locations. The oldest of the nation's 76 million boomers turn 74 in 2020, meaning the window is closing for that group to help small towns grow.

Text Only
State, national, world
  • Diamondback.jpg Watonga prison lays off nearly 100 employees

    The Diamondback Correctional Facility has been vacant since 2010, when the state of Arizona opted not to renew its contract with the prison.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo 2 Stories

  • Nepal Everest Avalanc_Hass(1).jpg Avalanche sweeps down Everest, killing at least 12

    The Sherpa guides had gone early in the morning to fix ropes for other climbers when the avalanche hit them at about 6:30 a.m., Nepal Tourism Ministry official Krishna Lamsal said from the base camp where he is monitoring rescue efforts.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Sinking ferry web.jpg Transcript shows ferry captain delayed evacuation

    The confirmed death toll from Wednesday’s sinking off southern South Korea was 26, most of bodies found floating in the ocean, the coast guard said. But 48 hours after the sinking the number of deaths was expected to rise sharply with about 270 people missing, many of them high school students on a class trip. Officials said there were 179 survivors.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Obama mug web.jpg Obama: Defending health law good for some Democrats

    For their part, Republicans practically dare Democrats to embrace “Obamacare,” the GOP’s favorite target in most congressional campaigns.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Obama Ukraine web.jpg Obama shows skepticism on Russia in Ukraine

    Obama did not say what additional sanctions might be in the offing if commitments made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva do not materialize.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gay Marriage Oklahoma web.jpg Circuit judge in gay marriage case asks pointed questions

    The two cases are the first to reach an appellate court since the U.S. Supreme Court last year struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Scott Inman web.jpg Oklahoma House Democratic leader Scott Inman: No time for tax cut

    Inman made the comments a little more than two weeks after as many as 25,000 teachers, administrators and students rallied March 31 at the Capitol to urge lawmakers to restore $200 million in public education funding that has been lost in recent years due to budget cuts.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Minimum wage web.jpg Some workers are excluded from minimum wage, increased or not

    The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics says nearly 1.8 million hourly workers were paid below $7.25 last year — about 2 percent of the 76 million Americans earning hourly wages. An additional 1.5 million earned exactly $7.25.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Boston Marathon web.jpg Boston Marathon organizers confident of safe race on Monday

    Security plans include thousands of uniformed police, hundreds of plainclothes officers and about 100 strategically positioned video cameras that will monitor the crowds. Police also strongly discouraged spectators from bringing backpacks.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Airlines helpful fuel web.jpg Why high oil prices actually are good for airlines

    These changes, along with high oil prices, have created an insurmountable roadblock to startup airlines that hope to undercut established carriers.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads