Special Report

America's Fastest Shrinking Cities

7. Weirton-Steubenville, WV-OH
> Population growth (2010-2014):
> Total population: 124,718
> Per capita income: $28,044
> Unemployment rate: N/A

With deaths occurring at a faster rate than across the nation, and with a birth rate of just 3.7% — lower than the national birth rate of 5.5% — the Weirton-Steubenville metro area’s population declined by nearly 2%. The population’s decrease due to natural factors was greater than the population’s decrease due to net migration, the only fast-shrinking metro area where this was the case. The area was also quite poor in 2013 with GDP per capita of $28,044, well below the national figure of $52,093. Although, the area’s economic output increased 3.6% from 2010 to last year, slightly faster than the national economic growth rate over that period.

6. Saginaw, MI
> Population growth (2010-2014):
> Total population: 196,542
> Per capita income: $36,345
> Unemployment rate: 9.0%

Like several other shrinking metro areas, and especially Midwestern regions, the Saginaw area economy relies on manufacturing more than many others. In 2013, 16% of the metro’s GDP came from manufacturing, much higher than the 11% industry contribution nationwide. Similarly, 15.5% of Saginaw’s workforce was employed in manufacturing in 2013, higher than the 10.5% industry representation in the national workforce. The area has seen numerous business closures and layoffs, especially in the manufacturing sector. While this may explain part of the area’s exodus, there has been some resurgence in recent months. Solar panel manufacturer Suniva, for example, recently opened a plant in Saginaw, which should help bolster the local economy. Saginaw’s unemployment rate of 11.9% in 2013 and 9.0% in 2010 were both higher than the respective national figures. However, as of December 2014, the unemployment rate had fallen to 5.3%, lower than the December national unemployment rate.

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5. Cumberland, MD-WV
> Population growth (2010-2014):
> Total population: 101,225
> Per capita income: $26,736
> Unemployment rate: 7.5%

The Cumberland metro area economy improved hardly at all from 2010 to 2013. Except for the public administration sector, all of the area’s industry’s outputs declined or remained flat. The Cumberland area’s GDP per capita of $26,736 was also roughly unchanged from 2010 as well as considerably lower than the national GDP per capita of $52,093. The region lost 1% of its population due to natural growth factors, and nearly 1.6% due to net migration. As in most fast-shrinking metro areas, the median age of 42.1 years in Cumberland was higher than the national median of 37.5 years. As younger people — the most likely Americans to move — choose other locations to migrate, the median age will rise. Birth rates also tend to be lower in older populations.

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