The decline in the nation’s rural population first began in 2010, before reaching its lowest level in 2011-2012. Rural areas lost nearly 62,000 residents that year, alone. Since then it’s begun to reverse.
The Economic Research Service at the USDA made the announcement in its annual report titled “Rural America at a Glance.” As recently as 2016-2017, the ERS reported rural counties added population for the first time this decade due to people moving in as the economy improved.
The rural unemployment rate peaked at 10.3 percent in 2010, dropping steadily since then to 4.3 percent in 2017. After peaking in 2013, rural poverty rates across all racial and ethnic groups have also declined since then.
The overall graying of rural America is still continuing. Rural areas are attracting retirees and losing new people coming into the workforce. Rural counties are still more attractive to retirees who are looking for scenic or lifestyle amenities.