TV6 Investigates: Census data reveals continued population decline of more rural areas

TV6 Investigates: Census data reveals continued population decline of more rural areas
Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 1:47 AM CDT
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CLINTON, Iowa (KWQC) - The United States is diversifying and getting older, as the population continues to shift towards metropolitan areas.

312 of the nation’s 386 metropolitan areas have a larger population than they did at the beginning of the last decade as the population in rural America declined.

Many small to midsize cities, including Clinton, are also experiencing a loss of population. In the past 10 years, the city of Clinton has lost nearly 7% of its population. Clinton County is down 5.5%.

But the trend is not unique to the area. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 85% of Americans live in metropolitan areas of more than 50 thousand people.

Of the counties in the TV6 viewing area, eight lost five percent or more of its population since 2010 and only one, Scott County, saw an increase.

But the population decline in Clinton goes beyond the past ten years.

“If Highway 30 was four-lanes, you’d be looking at a different situation,” said Rich Phelan with the Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce. “What happened is the Interstate highway system bypassed Clinton, and consequently the population tended towards the larger areas that were served by four-lane highways.”

But behind the empty storefronts in downtown Clinton, attempts to spark growth are underway through revitalization, economic development, and collaboration with nearby towns.

“Teamwork is what’s going to lead to success here,” Phelan said. “City can’t do it on its own. Chamber can’t do it on its own. Development can’t do it on its own. Together, the three together are extremely strong.”

About four in five metropolitan areas grew over the last decade, including all ten of the nation’s largest cities. For the first time in history, all ten of those cities held more than a million residents.

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