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Census shows record 1 in 3 US counties are dying

By Hope Yen

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, March 14 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

New York ranks tops in new immigrants among large metro areas, but also ranks at the top for young residents moving away.

In contrast, the Texas metropolitan areas of Dallas, Houston and Austin continued to be big draws for young adults, ranking first, second and fourth among large metro areas in domestic migration due to diversified economies that include oil and gas production. Phoenix, Las Vegas and Orlando also saw gains.

By region, growth in the Northeast slowed last year to 0.3 percent, the lowest since 2007; in the Midwest, growth dipped to 0.25 percent, the lowest in at least a decade. In the South and West, growth rates ticked up to 1.1 percent and 1.04 percent, respectively.

"The brakes that were put on migration during the Great Recession appear to be easing up," said William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution who analyzed the migration data. "Native migrants are becoming more 'footloose' — following the geographic ups and downs of the labor market — than are immigrants, who have tended to locate in established ethnic communities in big cities."

"Immigration levels are not where they were a decade ago, but their recent uptick demonstrates the important safety valve they can be for areas with stagnating populations," he said.

Mark Mather, an associate vice president at the Population Reference Bureau, noted that political efforts to downsize government and reduce federal spending could also have a significant impact on future population winners and losers.

Since 2010, many of the fastest-growing U.S. metro areas have also been those that historically received a lot of federal dollars, including Fort Stewart, Ga., Jacksonville, N.C., Crestview, Fla., and Charleston-North Charleston, S.C., all home to military bases. Per-capita federal spending rose from about $5,300 among the fastest-growing metros from 2000 to 2010, to about $8,200 among the fastest-growing metros from 2011 to 2012.

"Federal funding has helped many cities weather the decline in private sector jobs," Mather said.

Other findings:

—Exurbs, the far-flung suburbs on the edge of metropolitan areas, continue to see their growth fizzle after their heady days during the housing boom. Growth dipped last year to 0.35 percent, the lowest in more than a decade. In 2006, exurban growth was as high as 2.1 percent.

—Roughly 46 percent of rural counties just beyond the edge of metropolitan areas experienced natural decrease, compared to 17 percent of urban counties.

—As a whole, the population of non-metropolitan areas last year declined by 0.1 percent, compared with growth of 1 percent for large metro areas and 0.7 percent for small metropolitan areas.

—In the last year, four metro areas reached population milestones: Los Angeles hit 13 million, Philadelphia reached 6 million, Las Vegas crossed 2 million and Grand Rapids, Mich., passed 1 million.

—Chattahoochee County, Ga., home to Fort Benning, was the nation's fastest-growing county, increasing 10.1 percent in the last year.

The census estimates are based on local records of births and deaths, Internal Revenue Service records of people moving within the United States and census statistics on immigrants.

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