1 in 3 U.S. Counties Are Losing People, Census Data Show

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A record number of U.S. counties -- more than 1 in 3 -- are now dying off, hit by an aging population and weakened local economies that are spurring young adults to seek jobs and build families elsewhere. New 2012 Census estimates released Thursday highlight the population shifts as the U.S. encounters its most sluggish growth levels since the Great Depression.

The findings also reflect the increasing economic importance of foreign-born residents as the U.S. ponders an overhaul of a major 1965 federal immigration law. Without new immigrants, many metropolitan areas such as New York, Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh and St. Louis would have posted flat or negative population growth in the past year. "Immigrants are innovators, entrepreneurs, they're making things happen. They create jobs," said Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, at an immigration conference in his state last week. Saying Michigan should be a top destination for legal immigrants to come and boost Detroit and other struggling areas, Snyder made a special appeal: "Please come here."

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1 in 3 U.S. Counties Are Losing People, Census Data Show

Annualized expected growth from Q3 2012 - Q3 2017: +1.4 percent

The Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos metro area has seen home prices fall 0.2 percent since they peaked in Q1 2009. It has a median home price of $208,000, which is above the national median of $178,200. It has a population of nearly 1.8 million, an unemployment rate of 5.1 percent, and a median family income of $73,800, which is below the national median of $63,800.

Data provided by Fiserv Case Shiller Indexes.

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Annualized expected growth from Q3 2012 - Q3 2017: +1.4 percent

The College Station-Bryan area has a population of about 231,623 million, an unemployment rate of 5.3 percent, and a median family income of $54,800.

Data provided by Fiserv Case Shiller Indexes.

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Annualized expected growth from Q3 2012 - Q3 2017: +1.4 percent

The Waterloo-Cedar Falls metro area has a population of about 168,289, an unemployment rate of 5.0 percent, and a median family income of $65,200.

Data provided by Fiserv Case Shiller Indexes.

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Annualized expected growth from Q3 2012 - Q3 2017: +1.4 percent

The Altoona metro area has a population of 127,099, an unemployment rate of 7.1 percent, and a median family income of $56,900.

Data provided by Fiserv Case Shiller Indexes.

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Annualized expected growth from Q3 2012 - Q3 2017: +1.3 percent

The Laredo metro area has seen home prices fall 4.9 percent since their Q1 2009 peak. It has a population of 256,496, an unemployment rate of 6.4 percent, and a median family income of $40,900.

Data provided by Fiserv Case Shiller Indexes.

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Photo: Flickr/Georgia National Guard

Annualized expected growth from Q3 2012 - Q3 2017: +1.3 percent

The San Angelo metro area has a population of 113,443, an unemployment rate of 4.7 percent, and a median family income of $56,000, which is below the national median of $63,800.

Data provided by Fiserv Case Shiller Indexes.

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Annualized expected growth from Q3 2012 - Q3 2017: +0.9 percent

The Denver-Aurora-Broomfield area has seen home prices fall 5.4 percent since they peaked in Q1 2006. It now has a median home price of $273,000. It has a population of about 2.6 million, an unemployment rate of 7.5 percent, and a median family income of $76,200.

Data provided by Fiserv Case Shiller Indexes.

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Annualized expected growth from Q3 2012 - Q3 2017: +0.9 percent

The Midland metro area has a median family income of $67,500, a population of 140,308, and an unemployment rate of 3.2 percent.

Data provided by Fiserv Case Shiller Indexes.

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Annualized expected growth from Q3 2012 - Q3 2017: +0.7 percent

The Naples-Marco Island metro area has a median home price of $265,000, down 50.4 percent from its Q1 2006 peak. The metro has a population of 328,134, an 8.0 percent unemployment rate, and a median family income of $63,700.

Data provided by Fiserv Case Shiller Indexes.

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Annualized expected growth from Q3 2012 - Q3 2017: +0.6 percent

Ann Arbor has a median home price of $180,000, down 20.6 percent from its Q4 2005 peak. It has a population of 347,962, an unemployment rate of 5.3 percent, and a median family income of $84,900.

Data provided by Fiserv Case Shiller Indexes.

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Annualized expected growth from Q3 2012 - Q3 2017: +0.5 percent

The Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale metro area has a median home price of $175,000 and home prices are 47.5 percent off their Q2 2006 peak. It has a population of 4.26 million, an unemployment rate of 6.7 percent, and a median family income of $60,300.

Data provided by Fiserv Case Shiller Indexes.

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Annualized expected growth from Q3 2012 - Q3 2017: +0.5 percent

Elmira has a median home price of $106,000, which is below the national median of $178,200.
It has a population of 88,840, an unemployment rate of 9.2 percent, and a median family income of $58,800.

Data provided by Fiserv Case Shiller Indexes.

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Annualized expected growth from Q3 2012 - Q3 2017: -0.2 percent

Home prices in the Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-Deerfield Beach metro area have fallen 46.1 percent since their Q2 2006 peak. The median home price is $220,000, above the national median of $178,200. It has a median family income is $60,600, below the national median of $63,800. The metro area has a population of about 1.8 million and an unemployment rate of 6.9 percent.

Data provided by Fiserv Case Shiller Indexes.

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Annualized expected growth from Q3 2012 - Q3 2017: -1.0 percent

Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall home prices are 48.4 percent off their Q1 2007 peak, and the metro has a median home price of $206,000. It has a population of 2.5 million people, an unemployment rate of 8.8 percent, and a median family income of $48,200 below the national median.

Data provided by Fiserv Case Shiller Indexes.

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The growing attention on immigrants is coming mostly from areas of the Midwest and Northeast, which are seeing many of their residents leave after years of staying put during the downturn. With a slowly improving U.S. economy, young adults are now back on the move, departing traditional big cities to test the job market mostly in the South and West, which had sustained the biggest hits in the housing bust. Also seeing big declines now are rural and exurban areas, along with industrial sections of the Rust Belt.

Census data show that 1,135 of the nation's 3,143 counties are now experiencing "natural decrease," where deaths exceed births. That's up from roughly 880 U.S. counties, or 1 in 4, in 2009. Already apparent in Japan and many European nations, natural decrease is now increasingly evident in large swaths of the U.S. Despite increasing deaths, the U.S. population as a whole continues to grow, boosted by immigration from abroad and relatively higher births among the mostly younger migrants from Mexico, Latin America and Asia.

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1 in 3 U.S. Counties Are Losing People, Census Data Show

Sarasota's Siesta Key Beach was ranked the No. 1 beach in the U.S. in 2011, making it a major attraction to the area. The city also boasts world-class restaurants and enviable seaside communities. It's also affordable: The media home sale price there is $164,750, according to Trulia.

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With Bank of America and Wells Fargo headquarters there, Charlotte has become the second-largest financial center in the U.S., behind only New York. Banking professionals are flocking to the city, where the median home sale price is $170,000, according to Trulia.

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Amazon recently bought its Seattle headquarters and plans an expansion, lending the city prestige as a tech hub and bringing many young people to the area looking for tech jobs. Public plazas have been opening up around the area, with more planned for the future, breathing new life into Seattle's downtown area. The median home sale price in Seattle is $362,500, according to Trulia.

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Adventure seekers have more than enough at their fingertips in Denver. In this big-city mountain town, there's ample opportunity for skiing in the winter and mountain biking in the summer. The median home sale price in Denver is  $232,000, according to Trulia.

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The obvious draw to Houston is the weather: Mild winters and hot summers make this city one of the most attractive in the country. But there's another thing Houston has going for it: jobs. The city was recently named one of America's strongest job markets, with transportation and financial services sectors leading the way there. The media home sale price in Houston is $120,000, according to Trulia.

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Perhaps considered the second-best city in the U.S. behind New York, Chicago's diversity shows in the wide variety of restaurants, entertainment and neighborhoods. Here's the best part: The median home sale price there is $190,000, according to Trulia -- almost unheard of for a city its size.

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Orlando is a prime destination for retirees looking to settle down for the rest of their lives. There's also a large golfing community here, with the most pro golfers calling the city home than any other other in the country, according to Yahoo! Finance. The median home sale price in Orlando is $117,500, according to Trulia.

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If the Southwest is more your style, there's no better town than Phoenix. The housing market has been slowly crawling back from the depths of the bust, and the median home sale price is a vey reasonable $132,000, according to Trulia.

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The Dallas-Fort Worth area has been one of the best job markets in the country for a while. Besides that, though, Dallas is a world-class city with top-notch entertainment venues, such as the Texas Motor Speedway. The median home sale price there is $62,536, according to Trulia.

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This is the third year that Atlanta has topped the list of the most popular cities to move to. It's a city that has much of what New York house -- minus the freezing winter temperatures. Atlanta is also home to the largest aquarium in the world. The median home sale price in Atlanta is $199,950, according to Trulia.

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"These counties are in a pretty steep downward spiral," said Kenneth Johnson, a senior demographer and sociology professor at the University of New Hampshire, who researched the findings. "The young people leave and the older adults stay in place and age. Unless something dramatic changes -- for instance, new development such as a meatpacking plant to attract young Hispanics -- these areas are likely to have more and more natural decrease."

The areas of natural decrease stretch from industrial areas near Pittsburgh and Cleveland, to the vineyards outside San Francisco, to the rural areas of east Texas and the Great Plains. A common theme is a waning local economy, such as farming, mining or industrial areas. They also include some retirement communities in Florida, although many are cushioned by a steady flow of new retirees each year. In the last year, Maine joined West Virginia as the only two entire states where deaths exceed births, which have dropped precipitously after the recent recession. As a nation, the U.S. population grew by just 0.75 percent last year, stuck at historically low levels not seen since 1937.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.

See also:
Housing Bust Puts Brakes on Decades of Suburban Sprawl
Happiest and Most Miserable Cities in America
Best Cities to Buy Foreclosures in 2013

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