Special Report

This Is America's Fastest Shrinking City

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16. Saginaw, MI
> 2010-2019 pop. change: -4.8% (-9,630)
> 2019 unemployment: 4.8% — 60th highest out of 383 MSAs
> 2010-2019 employment change: 3.7% — 297th highest out of 383 MSAs
> 2019 median household income: $48,303 — 26.5% below national median

More than 200,000 people lived in the Saginaw, Michigan, metro area in 2010. By 2019, the population dwindled to less than 191,000. This decline of over 9,600 people represents a 4.8% population decrease. For context, the overall U.S. population grew 6.3% during that same timeframe.

Even as the number of Saginaw area residents fell, the number of people working there increased, by 3.7% — up from 79,625 in 2010 to 82,533 in 2019. Despite the increase in jobs, the area is still struggling economically. From 2010 to 2019, Saginaw’s median household income increased 15.2%, less than half of the comparable U.S. increase. Also, the area’s poverty rate increased 2.1 percentage points, the 12th largest increase of any area. Nationwide, the poverty rate decreased by 3.0 percentage points during that decade.

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15. Pittsfield, MA
> 2010-2019 pop. change: -4.8% (-6,330)
> 2019 unemployment: 3.7% — 169th highest out of 383 MSAs
> 2010-2019 employment change: 1.9% — 315th highest out of 383 MSAs
> 2019 median household income: $58,895 — 10.4% below national median

The Pittsfield metro area is the only part of Massachusetts, or even the broader New England region, to rank among the fastest shrinking places in America. From 2010 to 2019, the Pittsfield area population fell by over 6,300, or 4.8%.

The Pittsfield area stands out among other places with rapidly declining populations because it has many positive economic indicators. Each year throughout the 2010s, the area’s unemployment rate has been lower than the U.S. rate, and its 2019 poverty rate of 10.8% is below the U.S. rate of 12.3%. Pittsfield’s median household income also increased more than the U.S. increase during that decade, yet the typical household still earns under $59,000 a year, well below the U.S. median of $65,712.

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14. Binghamton, NY
> 2010-2019 pop. change: -5.2% (-13,033)
> 2019 unemployment: 4.6% — 72nd highest out of 383 MSAs
> 2010-2019 employment change: -11.0% — 381st highest out of 383 MSAs
> 2019 median household income: $53,768 — 18.2% below national median

The Binghamton area of New York is one of just 14 major metro areas in the country in which the population declined by more than 5% from 2010 to 2019. During that time, the nationwide population grew 6.3%. The population decline hastened in the second half of the decade, with the area losing almost twice as many people from 2014 to 2019 as from 2010 to 2014.

Few job markets in the country have struggled quite as severely as Binghamton’s has in the last decade. The number of workers dropped by about 12,500 from 2010 to 2019, or 11%. Only two other metro areas lost a larger share of their jobs.

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13. Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA
> 2010-2019 pop. change: -5.2% (-29,701)
> 2019 unemployment: 5.7% — 17th highest out of 383 MSAs
> 2010-2019 employment change: -4.7% — 365th highest out of 383 MSAs
> 2019 median household income: $48,558 — 26.1% below national median

With over 500,000 people, the Youngstown-Warren-Boardman area around the Ohio-Pennsylvania border is the largest metro area to appear on this list. The area’s population fell from just under 566,000 in 2010 to about 536,000 in 2019. The nearly 30,000 population drop is the largest total decline of any U.S. metro area over that time. Unlike many other cities on this list, the decline was somewhat evenly split between natural population decline and net migration.

While incomes increased nationwide by 31.3% during the 2010s, the Youngstown area did not experience the economic progress the rest of the country did. The area’s median household income actually declined by 4.7%, down to $48,558.

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12. Ocean City, NJ
> 2010-2019 pop. change: -5.4% (-5,218)
> 2019 unemployment: 7.2% — 7th highest out of 383 MSAs
> 2010-2019 employment change: -1.2% — 342nd highest out of 383 MSAs
> 2019 median household income: $69,980 — 6.5% above national median

Ocean City is one of three New Jersey metro areas to rank among the fastest shrinking places in the country. From 2010 to 2019, Ocean City’s population fell from over 97,257 to roughly 92,039, a 5.4% decline. During each of those years, the area has had one of the very highest unemployment rates in the country, likely prompting residents to move elsewhere to look for economic opportunities.

The Ocean City metro area stands out from other rapidly shrinking places as relatively affluent. With a 2019 median household income at nearly $70,000, the area is the only one on this list with a median household income higher than the U.S. median of $65,712. Ocean City also had a 2019 poverty rate of 8.8%, well below the 12.3% U.S. median.