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Many Counties Have Both Outmigration and Natural Decline

In many Farm Belt counties, losses in farm-related jobs have not been offset by new types of jobs, resulting in a well-known trend of population loss. What is less known is that nearly 500 nonmetro counties with recent population outmigration also have more deaths than births—known as natural decline—and thus are losing people from two sources. Natural decline stems both from dwindling family size and prolonged outmigration of young adults, resulting in high average age. This phenomenon has spread somewhat into the lower South and is now common in parts of Appalachia, where it also affects many diminished metro industrial areas. The condition, which did not arise overnight, poses difficult development challenges.