Nonmetro Population Drops Slightly in 2013

The nation’s most rural counties saw a drop of about 36,000 residents from 2012 to 2013, according to new Census estimates. It's a very small number as a percentage of the overall rural population, but it's the second straight year rural population has fallen.

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NOTE: We had trouble wth data in the map originally published with this story. We’ve substituted this chart until we get things sorted out. Were sorry for the error.

For the third year in a row, nonmetropolitan counties saw their population decline, according to 2013 population estimates released recently by the U.S. Census.

Counties that are outside metropolitan areas saw the number of residents drop by about 28,000 from 2012 to 2013, according to Census figures. 

It’s a tiny drop as a percentage of the overall rural population. But it continues a pattern that occurred the last three years.

The population loss occurred entirely in the nation’s least populated counties – “noncore” counties, which have no cities larger than 25,000 residents. In those small counties, the cumulative population dropped by 36,000 from 2012-2013, Census data show. 

Nonmetro counties with small cities (called micropolitan counties) gained about 8,000 residents during the same period.

The nation’s metropolitan counties gained 2.3 million residents from 2012-2013. 

Population change varies greatly from county to county. Within noncore counties, for example, 523 gained population or remained flat, while 812 lost population. In micropolitan counties, 280 counties gained in population while 361 lost population.

There was great variety in metropolitan counties, as well. Detroit’s Wayne County, for example, lost 17,000 residents in the past year. That’s more than half the loss experienced in all nonmetro counties combined. About 800 metro counties lost population while 382 gained population.

Overall U.S. population stood at 316 million in July 2013, according to the new estimates.

Nonmetro counties contained a population of 46.2 million (27.2 million in micro, 19 million in noncore). Metro counties had a population of about 270 million, according to the new Census estimates.




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