Special Report

America's Fastest Shrinking Cities

Samuel Stebbins

Source: Andrew Jameson / Wikimedia Commons

25. Bay City, MI
> 2010-2018 pop. change: -3.5% (-3,758)
> 2018 unemployment: 5.2%
> 2010-2018 employment change: -2.8% (-974)
> Median household income: $45,983

Bay City is one of three Michigan metro areas to rank on this list. Over the last eight years, the number of people living in the city fell by 3.5% — or about 3,758 people. Between 2010 and 2018, there were about 1,000 more deaths than births in the metro area, but most of the population decline is attributable to more people moving out of the area than moving in.

As is the case in most cities on this list, employment opportunities have become increasingly scarce in Bay City in recent years. There were nearly 1,000 fewer people employed in the metro area in 2018 than there were in 2010.

Source: mliu92 / Flickr

24. Anniston-Oxford-Jacksonville, AL
> 2010-2018 pop. change: -3.5% (-4,200)
> 2018 unemployment: 4.7%
> 2010-2018 employment change: -4.8% (-2,248)
> Median household income: $43,686

Over the last eight years, the Anniston-Oxford-Jacksonville metro area’s population shrank by 3.5% — even as Alabama’s population as a whole grew by 2.1%. The vast majority of the metro area’s population loss was the result of people moving out, likely in favor of areas with greater employment opportunities. Over the last eight years, the number of jobs in the metro area fell by 4.8%.

The job market in the Anniston metro area remains worse than it is across the state as a whole. In 2018, 4.7% of workers in the metro area were out of a job compared to Alabama’s 4.1% unemployment rate.

Source: Csoldner187 / Wikimedia Commons

23. Altoona, PA
> 2010-2018 pop. change: -3.6% (-4,551)
> 2018 unemployment: 4.2%
> 2010-2018 employment change: +1.1% (+610)
> Median household income: $45,664

Due in almost equal parts to natural population decline — fewer births than deaths — and net outbound migration, the Altoona, Pennsylvania, metro area is home to nearly 5,000 fewer people now than in 2010. Over the same period, Pennsylvania’s population grew by 0.8%.

Many of the fastest shrinking metro areas in the country tend to be low income. In Altoona, the typical household earns $45,664 a year, well below the median annual household incomes of $56,951 across Pennsylvania and the $57,652 nationwide.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

22. Vineland-Bridgeton, NJ
> 2010-2018 pop. change: -3.7% (-5,732)
> 2018 unemployment: 7.5%
> 2010-2018 employment change: +0.3% (+159)
> Median household income: $50,000

The Vineland-Bridgeton metro area lost a net of 5,732 people between 2010 and 2018, or about 3.7% of its population. Overall, New Jersey is one of the slowest growing states in the country. In the last eight years, the Garden State’s population expanded at a pace of just 1.2%, a fraction of the 5.8% national population growth over the same period. Population growth across the state has been hindered lately by people are increasingly leaving for career opportunities. In 2018, the unemployment rate was 7.5% in Vineland-Bridgerton and 4.1% in New Jersey as a whole compared to the 3.9% U.S. unemployment rate.

Source: dougtone / Flickr

21. Pittsfield, MA
> 2010-2018 pop. change: -3.8% (-4,971)
> 2018 unemployment: 4.4%
> 2010-2018 employment change: +2.4% (+1,471)
> Median household income: $55,190

Pittsfield is the only metro area in Massachusetts and the broader New England area to rank on this list. There are now nearly 5,000 fewer people living in Pittsfield than there were in 2010, a 3.8% eight-year decline. Over the same period, Massachusetts’ population grew by 5.1%.

Long-term population decline in the western Massachusetts metro area is attributable to both natural population change — number of births less the number of deaths — and net migration. High crime areas are less attractive to new families and potential new residents, and Pittsfield’s violent crime rate of 558 incidents per 100,000 people is well above the national violent crime rate of 383 incidents per 100,000.