Special Report

America's Fastest Shrinking Cities

4. Flint, MI
> Population growth (2010-2014):
> Total population: 415,376
> Per capita income: $28,773
> Unemployment rate: 9.6%

About 415,400 people lived in the Flint metro area last year, one of the higher metro area populations reviewed and the highest on the list of shrinking cities. Flint also had among the largest nominal drops in population, declining by nearly 13,000 from 2010 to 2014, or 2.8%, the fourth largest percentage decline nationwide. As in many regions in the Midwest, particularly in Michigan, the manufacturing industry in Flint has been declining for decades. This may account for part of the population decline as area residents are more likely to pursue work elsewhere and the area is less attractive to newcomers. In 2010, nearly 14% of Flint’s workforce was unemployed. The rate fell to 9.6% in 2013, but was still considerably higher than the national rate that year. As of December of last year, the unemployment rate had fallen to 5.7%, only slightly higher than the national rate of 5.6%.

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3. Sierra Vista-Douglas, AZ
> Population growth (2010-2014):
> Total population: 129,473
> Per capita income: $30,242
> Unemployment rate: N/A

The Sierra Vista-Douglas metro area’s population grew 1.1% due to international immigration from 2010 to last year, one of the highest such growth rates. However, this was not enough to offset the domestic exodus over that period, with the population shrinking 5.5% due to domestic migration. The area’s natural growth was relatively strong compared to other shrinking metro areas. As in most areas with shrinking populations, a relatively weak economy was a major factor in the region’s population decline. The area’s GDP per capita of about $30,000 in 2013 was among the lower figures nationwide and was also down slightly from 2010. By contrast, GDP per capita in most areas, as well as across the nation, increased over that period.

2. Johnstown, PA
> Population growth (2010-2014):
> Total population: 140,499
> Per capita income: $28,222
> Unemployment rate: 8.6%

The Johnston metro area’s population fell from 2010 to last year by nearly 6,000 persons, or 4.0%, a larger percentage decline than all but one large metro area. There were more deaths than births in the area, resulting in a roughly 1.3% drop in population due to natural factors over that period. Residents also moved out of the area faster than outsiders moved in, with the population declining an additional 2.6% from net migration. As in most areas with shrinking populations, the Johnstown area is not especially wealthy. The area’s GDP per capita was just $28,222 in 2013, one of the lowest metro level economic outputs and down slightly from 2010.

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1. Farmington, NM
> Population growth (2010-2014):
> Total population: 126,503
> Per capita income: $44,368
> Unemployment rate: 6.7%

No metro area with at least 100,000 residents had a larger population decline from 2010 to last year than Farmington, New Mexico, where the population declined by nearly 5% over that period. The area’s birth rate from 2010 to last year was nearly double the death rate, with the population actually growing 3.0% due to natural factors. By contrast, the national population grew by just 2% as a result of natural factors. The relatively young median age of 34 among area residents partly explains the higher birth rate, as younger people are the most likely to have children — the Farmington metro was the only area where the median age did not exceed the national median of 37.5. Despite the area’s natural population growth, however, Americans were far more likely to leave than to move to the area from 2010 to last year. The population shrank by nearly 8% due to migration over that time, one of largest such negative growth rates nationwide.

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