America’s Fastest Shrinking Cities

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10. Saginaw, Mich.
> Net population change, 2010 to 2013: -1.81% (tied, 10th highest)
> Population change from peak (1980): -13.8%
> Unemployment: 9.0% (42nd highest)
> GMP change, 2013: -1.2% (25th lowest)

The Saginaw metro area’s population fell by 1.8% between 2010 and 2013, largely due to people leaving the area. A net total of 4,393 people moved out of the area during those years. The area’s auto manufacturing sector and supporting industries have shrank in recent decades. A number of General Motors factories in the county have closed down over the years with only one remaining today, Saginaw Metal Casting Operations. While manufacturing employment has recovered slightly in recent years, Saginaw’s unemployment rate of 9% at the end of last year was still well above the national rate of 6.7%. Incomes were also quite low in the area, where per capita personal income was slightly more than $33,000 in 2012, versus more than $45,000 nationwide.

9. Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Penn.
> Net population change, 2010 to 2013: -1.81% (tied, 10th highest)
> Population change from peak (1970): -22.9%
> Unemployment: 8.1% (tied-75th highest)
> GMP change, 2013: -0.4% (tied, 57th lowest)

Mahoning County, Ohio, the largest in the Youngstown metro area, lost 23% of its population since its peak in 1970. The metro area’s population was decimated when a major source of jobs, the steel industry, began to get leaner and shut down factories in the 1970s and 1980s. Sections of the city became so sparsely populated over the past three decades that, in 2002, the administration revealed a plan to move residents from low-population areas to other neighborhoods within the city — although many residents were unwilling to move. Jobs in manufacturing have continued to diminish in recent years as well, falling by 37% between 2001 and 2013 — although manufacturing continued to account for an outsized portion of all jobs. Recently, the area’s economy has struggled, with GMP shrinking by 0.4% last year, even as the U.S. economy grew 1.9%.

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8. Weirton-Steubenville, W. Va.-Ohio
> Net population change, 2010 to 2013: -1.98%
> Population change from peak (1960): -31.5%
> Unemployment: 8.9% (45th highest)
> GMP change, 2013: -2.6% (5th lowest)

From 1960 to 2013, the population in Jefferson County, Ohio, the largest county in the Weirton metro area, declined by 31.5%. Like many of the fastest shrinking areas in the U.S., the Weirton metro area’s population once relied on the U.S. steel industry for jobs. In 2007, Weirton Steel Corp. plant was closed, ending the production of steel at a company that had once been a major part of the city’s identity. In 2012, 19% of the area’s population were senior citizens, and the median age was 43.8 years old, making the area one of the oldest in the U.S. From 2010 to 2013, the area lost nearly 2% of its population, largely due to natural factors, as deaths outnumbered births by more than 1,800.

7. Cumberland, Md.-W. Va.
> Net population change, 2010 to 2013: -2.0%
> Population change from peak (1950):-17.9%
> Unemployment: 7.1% (141st lowest)
> GMP change, 2013: +0.5% (141st lowest)

Factories run by Pittsburgh Plate Glass (PPG), Allegany Munitions and Kelly Springfield Tire once employed many Cumberland area residents. While PPG is still a Fortune 500 company, it ceased manufacturing in Cumberland in 1981, and the Kelly Springfield Tire plant closed in 1987. Allegany Munitions, now called Alliant Technologies, still employed more than 1,400 people in the area as of 2012. Not surprisingly, a weak economy may contribute to the area’s population decline. The area’s GMP grew by only an estimated 0.5% in 2013, well below the 1.9% national GDP growth. Cumberland city officials have initiated a plan to construct multi-family housing as an attempt to reverse the decline. The plan includes upgrades to the city’s infrastructure, including schools and roads.

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6. Carson City, Nev.
> Net population change, 2010 to 2013: -2.16%
> Population change from peak (2000): +3.1%
> Unemployment: 9.5% (28th highest)
> GMP change, 2013: -1.3% (22nd lowest)

The Carson City metro area experienced considerable outward migration between 2010 and 2013. In that time, nearly 1,000 residents left the area, which had a population of slightly more than 54,000 last year. Natural population growth was also negative, as deaths outnumbered births in every year from 2010 onward. The significant population decline was likely due in part to the area’s poor economy. The area’s unemployment rate was among the worst in the country, at 9.5%, as was the decline in home prices over the five years prior to the end of 2013. Also, personal income barely grew between 2010 and 2012, rising just 2.2% a year, among the lowest growth rates in the nation.Still, people may return to the area if the economy improves. An October 2013 report by the Nevada State Demographer’s Office projects that Carson City’s population will begin growing in the future.