In this 9 February 2011 photo, a coal truck drives out of downtown Welch, West Virginia. A record number of U.S. counties - more than 1 in 3 - is now dying off, hit by an aging population and weakened local economies that are spurring young adults to seek jobs elsewhere. 2012 census estimates highlight the population shifts as the U.S. encounters its most sluggish growth levels since the Great Depression. In the last year, Maine joined West Virginia as the only two entire states where deaths exceed births, which have dropped precipitously after the recent recession. Photo: Jon C. Hancock / AP

By Hope Yen
13 March 2013

WASHINGTON (AP) — A record number of U.S. counties — more than 1 in 3 — are now dying off, hit by an aging population and weakened local economies that are spurring young adults to seek jobs and build families elsewhere.

New 2012 census estimates released Thursday highlight the population shifts as the U.S. encounters its most sluggish growth levels since the Great Depression.

The findings also reflect the increasing economic importance of foreign-born residents as the U.S. ponders an overhaul of a major 1965 federal immigration law. Without new immigrants, many metropolitan areas such as New York, Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis would have posted flat or negative population growth in the last year.

“Immigrants are innovators, entrepreneurs, they’re making things happen. They create jobs,” said Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, at an immigration conference in his state last week. Saying Michigan should be a top destination for legal immigrants to come and boost Detroit and other struggling areas, Snyder made a special appeal: “Please come here.”

The growing attention on immigrants is coming mostly from areas of the Midwest and Northeast, which are seeing many of their residents leave after years of staying put during the downturn. With a slowly improving U.S. economy, young adults are now back on the move, departing traditional big cities to test the job market mostly in the South and West, which had sustained the biggest hits in the housing bust.

Census data show that 1,135 of the nation’s 3,143 counties are now experiencing “natural decrease,” where deaths exceed births. That’s up from roughly 880 U.S. counties, or 1 in 4, in 2009. Already apparent in Japan and many European nations, natural decrease is now increasingly evident in large swaths of the U.S., much of it rural.

Despite increasing deaths, the U.S. population as a whole continues to grow, boosted by immigration from abroad and relatively higher births among the mostly younger migrants from Mexico, Latin America and Asia.

“These counties are in a pretty steep downward spiral,” said Kenneth Johnson, a senior demographer and sociology professor at the University of New Hampshire, who researched the findings. “The young people leave and the older adults stay in place and age. Unless something dramatic changes — for instance, new development such as a meatpacking plant to attract young Hispanics — these areas are likely to have more and more natural decrease.”

The areas of natural decrease stretch from industrial areas near Pittsburgh and Cleveland to the vineyards outside San Francisco to the rural areas of east Texas and the Great Plains. A common theme is a waning local economy, such as farming, mining, or industrial areas of the Rust Belt. They also include some retirement communities in Florida, although many are cushioned by a steady flow of new retirees each year.

In the last year, Maine joined West Virginia as the only two entire states where deaths exceed births, which have dropped precipitously after the recent recession. As a nation, the U.S. population grew by just 0.75 percent last year, stuck at historically low levels not seen since 1937.

Johnson said the number of dying counties is rising not only because of fewer births but also increasing mortality as 70 million baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964 move into their older years. “I expect natural decrease to remain high in the future,” he said. [more]

Census: Record 1 in 3 US counties are now dying

3 comments:

  1. Dylann Andre said...

    Human as we are, of course we would go to places where we can live at our best to survive.  

  2. TheTracker said...

    Populations falling naturally is good news. Doom and gloom about it is part and parcel of the mindset that is pushing us toward a massive over population of the Earth relative to its long-term carrying capacity.

     

  3. J.T. said...

    I agree that we must control our population growth by being socially responsible individuals. That said, I believe these deaths do not bode well. To my mind, they are the product of poverty, which is simply another fine example of widespread structural violence.  

 

Blog Template by Adam Every. Sponsored by Business Web Hosting Reviews