Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Incredible Shrinking Nonmetro America


Bill Frey is out with a characteristically excellent analysis of the new Census population estimates. As he notes, "nonmetropolitan America is whiter, getting older and losing population."

On the other side of the coin, Nevada has now officially joined the ranks of majority-minority states and the under-10 population in the country as a whole has also become majority-minority.

The demographics-in-reverse distinctiveness of rural areas is noteworthy:
in light of the huge attention given to nonmetropolitan America in the aftermath of the 2016 election because of its strong support of President Trump. Not only has the nonmetropolitan population remained much whiter than the rest of the nation, it is also getting older faster and shrinking in size. Despite its unmistakable impact on last year’s election, the demography of nonmetropolitan America—distinct from the rest of the country—may limit its long-term political clout. 
Frey concludes:
White (white non-Hispanic) support for Trump was especially noteworthy in nonmetropolitan America. As shown in Figure 4, Trump did well among whites in nonmetropolitan counties, scoring a 58 percent vote margin in counties with nearly all- white populations. His margins exceeded 30 percent in the vast majority of counties—those where white residents comprise more than three-fifths of the population.
 Despite constituting a small and declining portion of the population both nationally and in most states, nonmetropolitan voters demonstrated substantial political influence during the latest election cycle. Can this sliver of the population continue to exert such clout?
It will certainly be more difficult. To be sure, there is wide variation among small nonmetropolitan areas—ranging from those with once-thriving farming and manufacturing sectors to those that are investing in newer industries. It is also possible that the population losses seen in many rural areas and small towns in the post-recession period may be less severe as the economy improves. But the new census statistics make plain that this segment of the nation’s population remains distinct on key demographic dimensions in sharp contrast to a much larger, growing and more diverse urban America.
The whole article is worth a look. And be sure to click on the scrumptious and detailed tables Frey makes available.


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