The United States has added about 17 million people since 2010, but growth has been far from even nationwide. While some areas contributed considerably to the national population growth, others have been shrinking at a fast pace.
Though nationwide the population grew by 5.3% since 2010, there are many places in the United States that are losing hundreds, sometimes thousands of residents every year. Examining population changes at a more local level, the county levels, reveals that across the country there are some counties that have lost more than 10% of their populations since 2010.
In fact, in nearly every state in the country there is at least one county or county equivalent where the overall population has declined. Reviewing population change figures from the Census Bureau from July 2010 through July 2017, 24/7 Wall St. identified the fastest shrinking county in each state. In four states — Delaware, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii — no county’s population has declined. In states that do not have counties we reviewed what the Census Bureau treats as the equivalent to a county.
For the United States as a whole, natural growth — births minus deaths — is the largest source of population growth. Following natural growth, immigration from other countries accounts for the rest of the population growth. In the fastest shrinking county in each state, however, most of the population decline is due to people moving away at a much faster rate than they are arriving.
24/7 Wall St. spoke to Dr. William Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution, about national migration trends. While he explained that there are many reasons for residents to leave a place, including the search for cheaper housing, Frey noted that jobs have traditionally been one of the main reasons people into or out of an area. In the vast majority of the fastest shrinking counties on this list, the unemployment rate is higher compared to the state unemployment rate.
To identify the fastest shrinking county in every state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the seven-year population estimate change from the U.S Census Bureau’s Annual Estimates of the Resident Population from July 2010-July 2017. Only counties with a base population (from April 2010) greater than 10,000 were considered. If a county had a seven year population decline but an increase over either the most recent three- or two-year period, it was, it was excluded.