Special Report

America’s Fastest Shrinking Cities

Population growth has slowed in the U.S. in recent years. The U.S. population increased by just 0.48% from 2018 to 328.2 million people in 2019, the slowest growth in a century. While the U.S. grew, many parts of the country actually shrank, losing  a significant share of their population mostly to residents moving away. 

There are dozens of major metro areas across the country whose population contracted by  at least 4%. While some of the population decline was through natural changes — births minus deaths — the majority was through net migration as many more residents packed up their belongings and moved away than moved to the area.

To determine America’s fastest shrinking cities, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Population and Housing Estimates Program to find the metropolitan statistical areas that lost the largest percentage of their total population from July 1, 2010, to July 1, 2019. 

Shrinking metro areas tend to struggle economically. Of the 26 metro areas on this list, just one has a 2019 median household income greater than the U.S. median of $65,712, and just three have a 2019 poverty rate lower than the U.S. rate of 12.3%. Residents often leave economically depressed areas in search of places with better jobs and higher incomes. These are the cities with the lowest poverty rates.

Most of the metro areas on this list are in the Rust Belt region — part of the Midwest in which the economy once relied on manufacturing, but that have struggled as those jobs have dwindled. Many people have abandoned the region, moving south to areas with lower taxes, friendlier business climates, and more economic opportunities. These are the best and worst run states in America.

Click here to see America’s fastest shrinking cities.
Click here to see our methodology.

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