The nation’s population growth rate is down, and the size of the rural population is in decline. But the African American population has experienced growth in metro American and in most categories of rural counties.
While the overall rural population has been in decline for the last three years, the African American population has grown in much of rural America over the same period, according to the USDA Economic Research Service.
The chart above tells the story.
It shows the population growth (or decline) by percentage for the overall population (the black column) and for the African American population (the orange column). And it breaks that population change out into different types of metropolitan and rural counties so we can see the geographic trends.
Notice how the orange column outpaces the black column in every case.
The most interesting change occurred in rural counties that are adjacent to metropolitan areas. Traditionally, these counties have been growing at a fast clip, as metropolitan areas expand into surrounding countryside.
But the recession and the housing mortgage crisis slowed that growth, so much so that these formerly booming counties lost population from 2010 to 2013. The drop was slight (0.1 percent).
Even here, while the overall population declined, the African American population increased by 0.8 percent.
There was also a decline in overall population in the counties that are the “most rural” – those that are not adjacent to metro areas and don’t have any small cities. (That’s the far right set of columns on the chart.) There, the overall population dropped by 0.7 percent. The African American population also dropped, but at a smaller rate of 0.5 percent.
So what’s causing the African American population to grow at a faster rate than the overall population? The ERS says it’s likely because the black population has a higher fertility rate and a younger average age.