While some major metropolitan regions struggle with poverty and job availability, most of the country’s rural and smaller urban areas have experienced a severe lack of resources and attention that puts them at risk of never growing, financial information site MarketWatch reports.
Metropolitan areas, or counties with cities home to at least 50,000 people and the surrounding region that depends economically on the urban centers, comprise of 36% of total counties. And between 2008 and 2017, they have experienced the lion’s share of population and job growth—approximately 98.5 percent for each, to be exact.
The rest of the roughly 1 percent of job and population growth was split between the 21 percent of micropolitan counties, which contained smaller cities of 10,000 to 50,000 people, and the 42 percent of rural counties.
By region, the West and the South experienced a combined 72 and 82 percent of total job and population growth, respectively, while the Midwest and the Northeast were left splitting the remainder. Micropolitan and rural regions in the Northeast and Midwest took some of the largest hits, with over 80 percent of micropolitan and rural areas shrinking over the time period.
A major factor behind these trends is population migration of workers ages 25 to 54 away from rural areas. Others argue that manufacturing automation and outsourcing his caused widespread decline in middle-level jobs, as well as advances in rural industries such as agriculture and mining.