Many Outmigration Counties Are Prosperous
[imgbelt img=Landscape528.jpg]Rural counties that are losing people are often relatively prosperous. They have low levels of poverty and unemployment — but are still leaking people.
Nearly half of today’s nonmetropolitan counties lost population through net outmigration over the past 20 years; for over 700 counties, this loss has exceeded 10 percent.
Population loss tends to increase tax burdens, reduce property values, and reduce both the demand for and supply of local goods and services. Rural outmigration is also troublesome because it is highly concentrated among young adults, especially those possessing or acquiring education and skills.
But what makes outmigration counties different from nonmetro counties that gained from migration or at least had a more manageable loss over the past 20 years? This report identifies 733 nonmetro counties with an estimated net loss in population due to net outmigration of over 10 percent between 1988 and 2008, and compares their characteristics with other nonmetro counties.
What Did the Study Find?
Outmigration counties fall into two distinct types with very different sets of characteristics. One type, with poverty rates exceeding 25 percent in 1999, is clearly hampered by a lack of economic opportunities. High school completion rates are low, poverty rates average over 30 percent, and unemployment rates are chronically high in these high-poverty outmigration counties.