Special Report

America's Fastest Shrinking Cities

10. Anniston-Oxford-Jacksonville, AL
> Population growth (2010-2014):
> Total population: 116,736
> Per capita income: $30,136
> Unemployment rate: 8.1%

The Anniston-Oxford-Jacksonville metro area’s population shrank by 2.1%, or 2,670, from 2010 to 2014, the 10th largest percentage decrease compared to all large metro areas. While natural population growth was positive in most areas, it was negative in the Anniston area — that is, there were more deaths than births. In addition, more people migrated out of the area than into it from 2010 to 2014, with the population declining 2% due to migration. Weakening economic factors are partly behind the decline. While the area’s unemployment rate improved from 2010 to 2014, it was higher than the national rate in both years. Also, the Anniston metro area had a GDP per capita of $30,136 in 2013, far lower than the national figure of $52,093, and down more than 5% from 2010.

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9. East Stroudsburg, PA
> Population growth (2010-2014):
> Total population: 167,148
> Per capita income: $30,123
> Unemployment rate: N/A

Like most shrinking metro areas, a small influx of international residents helped offset the population loss of 2.7% due to domestic migration from 2010 to 2014. Also, natural population growth was roughly flat over that period. All told, the East Stroudsburg area’s population declined by more than 3,528 persons. Like several other shrinking metro areas, East Stroudsburg residents are relatively poor. The metro’s GDP per capita of $30,123 in 2013 was among the lower figures nationwide, as well as down slightly from 2010. By contrast, the nation’s GDP per capita increased over that period.

8. Decatur, IL
> Population growth (2010-2014):
> Total population: 109,278
> Per capita income: $50,431
> Unemployment rate: 11.8%

While the U.S. population grew from 2010 to 2014 by more than 10 million people, or over 3%, the Decatur metro area’s population fell by 2.2% over that period — the eighth largest population decline compared to all large U.S. metros. As in many areas with shrinking populations, Decatur’s 2013 unemployment rate of nearly 12% was considerably higher than the national rate of 7.4%. And while the unemployment rate improved from 2010 levels in most metro areas, Decatur’s unemployment rate went up slightly from 2010 to 2013. The manufacturing industry accounted for 20% of the metro’s GDP in 2013, one of the highest such contributions. The sector, however, is in a state of decay. For example, heavy equipment manufacturer Caterpillar, which has several plants in the region, has announced hundreds of layoffs over the last few years.