Special Report

America's Fastest Shrinking Cities

The United States is the third largest landmass of any country in the world. Indeed, Americans have options when deciding where to live. Variables such as topography, climate, tax code, and cost of living — in addition to proximity to family and friends — can all play a role.

These factors are somewhat subjective — some may prefer colder climate or a more rural environment, while others may prefer warmer climate in a bustling urban setting. Some U.S. cities, however, are demonstrably more attractive to new residents than others.

According to recent Census data, nearly a fifth of all states reported a population decline in the last two years. In many metro areas, the population decline is especially pronounced and has been a long-term trend.

Population change is the product of two factors — net migration and natural growth. Natural growth is simply the number of births over a given period less the number of deaths. Net migration is the difference between the number of new residents — either from other parts of the country or from abroad — and the number of residents who have left the area.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed the percentage change in the population of 382 U.S. metro areas between 2010 and 2017 to identify the fastest shrinking American cities. Over that period, 25 metro areas reported population declines of between 3% and 10%.

For many Americans, moving to a new city involves buying a home — and property taxes can be a considerable expense for homeowners. Nationwide, homeowners pay the equivalent of about 1.1% of their property value in state and local taxes annually. The majority of the fastest shrinking cities are in states where homeowners pay as much or more in state and local property taxes as a share of their home value than is typical nationwide.

Click here to see the fastest shrinking cities.


To identify America’s 25 fastest shrinking cities, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed population percentage changes in U.S. metropolitan statistical areas from July 2012 to July 2017 from the U.S. Census Bureau. Median household income figures for each city are for 2017 and came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. We also looked at the seasonally adjusted December 2018 unemployment rate from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data on the population change due to migration and natural growth from April 2010 to July 2017 came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

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