America’s population is growing, no more so than in the big metropolitan regions, which added 2.5 million people in 2015 alone, according to the US Census Bureau. Some cities are shrinking at a fast rate, however, with more residents moving away than are arriving.
Most of these affected areas have low incomes, high crime, and unemployment rates that are well above the national average.
The number of people in Farmington, New Mexico, decreased more than any other city in the United States from 2010 to 2015.
The population of Farmington, which is in San Juan County, contracted by 8.8 percent in the past five years. The median salary is $36,197, which is well below the $47,615 income of the average American. There are 118,737 people in Farmington, where the unemployment rate is 7.8 percent. By comparison, the national joblessness rate in January 2016 was 5 percent.
“One reason is that the area has been hit hard by dropping oil and natural gas prices,” wrote Matthew Reichbach for the NM Political Report. “San Juan County depended in large part on oil and gas jobs and has had an unemployment rate higher than the state at large for years.”
The analysis by 24/7 Wall St. found that metropolitan areas with poor economic conditions are losing residents while urban areas with plenty of resources and job opportunities are flourishing.
The population of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, in the southern part of the nation, also took a big hit, declining 6.38 percent. There are currently 93,696 residents in Pine Bluff, but 7,062 more people left the area than arrived since 2010.
Pine Bluff has one of the highest crime rates of all U.S. urban areas, and was once dubbed “the most dangerous little town in America”. Residents in Pine Bluff have an average income of $30,986 and there’s a 6.4 percent unemployment rate in the city.
Half of the 20 fastest-shrinking cities are in the so-called Rust Belt of the United States.
The Rust Belt encompasses parts of the northeastern and midwestern United States where industry has declined, factories are aging, and the population is falling.
Johnston, Pennsylvania — the third fastest shrinking town in the United States — is one of those places. Once heavily reliant on factories and manufacturing, the area has lost almost 5 percent of its population since 2010 and its unemployment rate is 6.7 percent.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf says many regional steel industry jobs have moved to other areas of the country and the world, having a negative impact on the state’s economy.
“Every part of Pennsylvania is subject to fluctuations, those changes in the macro economy,” he said during a recent visit to the area. “Pennsylvania – the government – I think can do what it needs to do to nudge the market so that it can maybe restore the jobs that were lost.”
The impacted cities tend to have older populations, people who are done having children. Consequently, deaths outpaced births in most of these areas. Migrants, who are generally younger, tend to seek out bigger urban areas where job opportunities are more plentiful.
Here are America’s Fastest-Shrinking Cities:
1. Farmington, New Mexico
Population growth (2010-2015): -8.76%
Total population: 118,737
Per capita income: $36,197
Unemployment rate: 7.8%
2. Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Population growth (2010-2015): -6.38%
Total population: 93,696
Per capita income: $30,986
Unemployment rate: 6.4%
3. Johnstown, Pennsylvania
Population growth (2010-2015): -4.92%
Total population: 136,411
Per capita income: $37,536
Unemployment rate: 6.7%
4. Sierra Vista-Douglas, Arizona
Population growth (2010-2015): -4.08%
Total population: 126,427
Per capita income: $36,720
Unemployment rate: 6.6%
5. Flint, MI
Population growth (2010-2015): -3.34%
Total population: 410,849
Per capita income: $34,878
Unemployment rate: 5.5%
You can see the rest of the list here.
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