Rural America Disappears as Populations Migrate to Cities
The latest US census reveals the surprising fact that rural America hosts only 16% of the country’s population. This number is the lowest in history. The census figures indicate that as the years go by, many rural communities could become ghost towns as schools and businesses shut down.
In contrast, many metropolitan cities are becoming sprawling megalopolises. In the absence of fresh investment and new jobs, large parts of Appalachia, the Great Plains, north Texas, Mississippi and Arkansas are set to be denuded of population. These rural areas were affected the most in the last decade, because youngsters left, leaving behind old people who are well past their childbearing years.
Reasons for the Rural Decline
Many rural folks are nostalgic about the time when they used to have rolling plants and big mills. They say they were assured of well-paying jobs after finishing high school. But today, many isolated rural towns are not able to attract workers in the absence of jobs. Big business is not interested in these places because they do not have qualified workers. Thus, most rural areas are caught in the web of a deadly downward spiral.
Facilities are Withdrawn
Recently, Delta Airlines ended flight service to 24 smaller airports in rural towns. The US Postal Service may shut down thousands of offices in rural areas. Some rural communities are devoid of good doctors and lack access to quality health care. Not surprisingly, the share of rural population has come down from 20% in 2000 to 16% in 2010. In 1910, rural America accounted for 72% of the population.
Boom in Metros
The people fleeing rural areas land up in large metropolitan towns and cities. As a result, since 2000, big metros have grown by 11%. The biggest gainers are small cities in Texas, Arizona and California. A record 51% of the population live in suburbs. 33% of the US populace lives in cities.
Attractions of Town Life
Towns and cities offer affordable housing close to jobs, shopping malls, cultural events, and entertainment and sports venues. Not surprisingly, megalopolises are on the rise. Many cities are set to merge and form megalopolises. These include San Antonio and Austin, Orlando and Tampa, Tucson and Phoenix and Baltimore and Washington. These developments are expected to attract government and corporate investment.
A Ray of Light
Most demographers feel that despite the population exodus, many rural areas will continue to be viable. Especially, rural counties that host outdoor recreation and vacation spots will continue to attract retirees and young couples.