Nationally, rural county population growth driven by foreign-born residents; tell us what drives rural economies?

We’ve written of the economic challenges facing rural communities in Washington and across the country. A dimension we’d not considered is the changing composition of small counties. This analysis reported by the Daily Yonder surprised us.

Rural America showed almost no population growth during the first half of this decade. But the little growth that did occur outside the nation’s metropolitan areas came from an increase in foreign-born residents.

Rural counties added 161,000 residents from 2010-15, according to Census population figures. Nearly three-quarters of that growth was the result of people who moved to rural America after being born in foreign countries, according to Census data.

Click through to see the interactive map.

The DY reports,

“Counties are not losing population randomly,” said Ken Johnson, senior demographer, University of New Hampshire Carsey School of Public Policy. “The people who leave rural counties tend to be young adults. So when a county loses those young people, it loses a lot of its potential, too. You’re not just losing those young adults, you’re losing the people who are going to produce the next generation.”

Retaining young adults is one rural challenge reported by economic development analysts in our state. Increasing investment and job creation in rural counties is an economic imperative. 

We’re interested in your views about what strategies should be adopted here to strengthen the state’s rural communities. Take our survey and let us know!