Rural Population Grows 2000-2007, But Slower Than National Average

The fastest population growth in the United States took place in the exurbs, the in-between counties that aren't urban yet but aren't fully rural either.

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This map shows the gain and loss of population in rural counties due to domestic migration. Yellow counties had more people move to cities than moved in. Red and blue counties had more people move in from cities than left.

The population in rural counties increased 2.4 percent from 2000 to 2007, one-third the growth rate of the entire United States (7.2%). The fastest growth rates in the country during this period, according to U.S. Census figures, were in the nation’s exurban regions.

Thirteen states lost rural population from 2000 to 2007. The group of states losing rural population were concentrated in the Great Plains. The 13 states that lost population were Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, North Dakota, Nebraska, West Virginia, New York, Mississippi, Arkansas, South Dakota, Indiana, New Mexico and Alaska.

The states with the largest increases in numbers of rural residents were primarily clustered in the Southeast. Florida and North Carolina each added 148,000 rural residents from 2000 to 2007. Georgia had an increase of 124,000 rural residents.

(For a full listing of states and their change in rural population during the first seven years of this century, see the bottom of this story.)

Only two states lost population overall during this seven year period — Louisiana and North Dakota. Louisiana saw its population drop more than 175,000 from 2000 to 2007, largely as a result of Hurricane Katrina, which struck the state in 2005. All of those losses came from metropolitan areas of the state. Both rural and exurban parts of Louisiana gained people.

Only two states lost urban population — Louisiana and West Virginia. (Urban counties would include both central cities and inner suburbs.) Nationally, urban population increased 7.2%.

And no state lost population in exurban counties. (These are counties that are close to cities, but have some rural characteristics.) The growth rate in exurban America was nearly 11% in this 7-year stretch, more than four times the growth rate for rural counties.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service found from July 2005 to July 2006, rural counties grew because of an increase in domestic migration. More people were moving into rural counties from metro areas than were going the other direction. Most of that migration into rural areas in that year took place in the West, the Texas Hill Country, Florida and Northern Virginia. (See map above.) Farming areas continued to see a loss of population due to migration.

Below are the 48 states ranked by their increase in rural population from 2000 to 2007. (Rhode Island and New Jersey have no rural counties.)

Rural Pop Change RankStatePercent Change 2000-07Total Change 2000-07
1Florida14.7%148,573
2North Carolina5.8%148,527
3Georgia7.5%124,339
4Tennessee5.1%80,057
5Arizona11.9%70,450
6Texas2.4%70,124
7Washington7.8%57,668
8Colorado7.6%47,771
9South Carolina4.2%42,921
10Hawaii12.6%42,406
11Kentucky2.4%42,379
12Missouri2.5%37,629
13California4.7%37,582
14Virginia3.5%37,104
15Nevada16.2%36,688
16Montana5.7%33,647
17Oregon4.0%32,413
18Idaho6.6%32,222
19Wisconsin2.0%30,426
20New Hampshire6.5%30,049
21Utah10.6%27,888
22Delaware17.7%27,653
23Maryland8.8%24,260
24Minnesota1.6%22,728
25Oklahoma1.6%20,398
26Pennsylvania1.0%19,767
27Wyoming5.5%19,085
28Michigan0.9%17,164
29Alabama1.1%14,630
30Connecticut4.8%14,027
31Maine1.8%9,863
32Louisiana0.5%5,243
33Ohio0.2%5,224
34Vermont1.0%3,955
35Massachusetts6.2%1,509
36Alaska-0.3%-778
37New Mexico-0.1%-1,000
38Indiana-0.4%-5,410
39South Dakota-1.7%-7,537
40Arkansas-0.8%-9,348
41Mississippi-0.6%-10,521
42New York-0.8%-13,145
43West Virginia-2.1%-17,113
44Nebraska-3.0%-22,855
45North Dakota-7.3%-26,326
46Kansas-3.4%-35,719
47Illinois-2.2%-36,882
48Iowa-3.4%-46,519

Here is the ranking of the states according to the change in exurban population from 2000 to 2002. Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, Hawaii and Wyoming have no exurban counties.

 

Exurban Pop Change RankStatePercent Change 2000-07Total Change 2000-07
1Texas19.6%410,569
2Georgia22.2%291,956
3North Carolina13.7%211,922
4Arizona37.9%175,767
5Virginia12.6%158,043
6Arkansas15.9%119,091
7South Carolina8.5%104,701
8Missouri11.1%99,165
9Alabama8.2%97,202
10Tennessee10.6%94,219
11Minnesota11.7%83,598
12Kentucky10.4%77,156
13Mississippi11.4%58,915
14Michigan5.5%56,936
15Wisconsin7.4%52,523
16Oregon27.7%44,097
17California15.3%42,794
18Ohio3.7%42,043
19Maryland15.1%40,919
20Oklahoma7.7%40,023
21West Virginia7.7%33,675
22Indiana3.9%32,796
23Louisiana6.4%30,208
24Florida15.6%27,375
25Iowa10.1%24,127
26New Jersey5.5%23,702
27Pennsylvania2.0%23,356
28Alaska38.0%23,292
29Maine4.8%22,659
30Illinois4.5%16,115
31South Dakota18.8%14,201
32New Hampshire8.3%9,348
33Utah18.6%8,399
34New Mexico6.4%8,313
35New York0.8%8,278
36Idaho10.1%7,123
37Colorado9.5%6,566
38Kansas2.9%6,167
39Washington6.8%5,228
40Vermont6.1%3,217
41Nebraska3.2%2,738
42Nevada23.4%794
43North Dakota2.5%623
44Montana1.8%169
45Massachusetts0.1%67

This final list shows the change in urban population from 2000 to 2007 by state. The list includes Washington, D.C.

 

Urban Pop Change RankStatePercent Change 2000-07Total Change 2000-07
1California7.9%2,601,191
2Texas16.2%2,571,867
3Florida14.1%2,092,917
4Arizona23.6%961,906
5Georgia18.1%942,002
6North Carolina16.5%651,270
7Nevada30.0%529,643
8Washington10.1%511,407
9Colorado14.0%505,917
10Illinois4.4%454,022
11Virginia9.3%442,718
12Utah19.5%375,874
13New York2.0%326,139
14Tennessee9.1%293,160
15Maryland5.4%256,679
16Oregon10.1%249,546
17South Carolina14.0%248,075
18New Jersey3.1%247,868
19Indiana6.2%237,418
20Minnesota6.1%171,816
21Idaho22.6%166,104
22Wisconsin4.9%155,016
23Missouri4.6%146,410
24New Mexico14.1%143,556
25Kansas8.2%117,131
26Pennsylvania1.2%108,615
27Oklahoma6.5%106,241
28Massachusetts1.6%99,082
29Iowa6.3%84,114
30Nebraska9.7%83,425
31Connecticut2.7%82,717
32Kentucky5.2%80,170
33Alabama3.5%68,919
34Ohio0.8%66,510
35Michigan0.8%59,278
36Delaware8.5%53,511
37Arkansas6.7%51,654
38New Hampshire6.2%40,645
39South Dakota14.7%34,706
40Alaska9.9%34,032
41Hawaii3.4%29,445
42Mississippi3.8%25,733
43North Dakota9.0%23,218
44Montana7.2%21,850
45District of Columbia2.8%16,233
46Wyoming6.7%9,963
47Maine3.7%9,762
48Rhode Island0.9%9,513
49Vermont3.6%5,255
50West Virginia-2.4%-12,871
51Louisiana-7.4%-211,223
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