The U.S. rural population continued a fourth consecutive year of gentle decline, according to the Economic Research Service (ERS). The group notes that although hundreds of individual counties have lost population over the years, this is the first period where the nationwide average is at a net deficit.
Population changes are calculated by measuring birth rate, death rate and families or individuals who move in and out of areas. From July 2013 to July 2014, the U.S. rural population saw 58,348 more births than deaths, but net migration of 89,251 led to an overall rural population loss.
ERS reports that rural population growth will likely continue on a gradual downward trend, due to historically low fertility rates plus an aging population.
From 1976 to 2010, the U.S. rural population saw slight increases ranging from 0.1% to 1.5% each year.