How Rural Are the States?

[imgbelt img=RuralStates528.jpg]Nearly three out of ten Americans live in a rural area or a small city. But in most states, the percentage of rural residents is far greater.


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The Census Bureau reports that the size of the rural population in the U.S. has been growing, but not at the same pace as have fully urbanized regions. People living in rural (i.e., unincorporated) areas totaled 59,492,276 in 2010, up just over 400,000 from 2000.

This rural population equaled 9.5 percent of the population in 2010, down from 10.7 percent in 2000.

Here are the rural, urban and small city populations for all 50 states and Washington, D.C. On the far right is each state’s ranking in terms of total percentage of rural and small city population. 


Below is a chart showing what the Census calls “urbanized areas” — that is, metropolitan areas. They are in purple.

The green dots are “urban clusters,” or cities between 2,500 and 50,000 people. In our analysis, we combine the “urbanized clusters” with those who live in unincorporated areas to come up with the total “rural” population.


Finally, this map shows the percent of people in each county who live in an “urbanized area,” that is cities of more than 50,000 people. This group includes 81 percent of the total population, but, as you can see, a far smaller percentage of the land area.