WDAY: The News Leader

Published June 13, 2013, 10:53 PM

America’s rural population dropped for first time ever

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - For the first time the population of rural America has dropped.

By: Becky Parker, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - For the first time the population of rural America has dropped.

Census estimates revealed today show a 40,000 person drop in rural counties. We spoke with a longtime resident of a local farming community about how rural life is changing.

Neal Goerger has lived in the Mantador area his entire life. Born on a farm just north of town, he moved into the community about 30 years ago. But the town he now lives in looks very different than the one he first moved to.

Neal Goerger, Longtime Resident: "It has changed considerably. We used to be very industrial; we had blacksmiths shops, grocery store, two gas stations. Now, we hardly have anything."

And it isn't just happening here. Across the United States, rural life is starting to dwindle. Census estimates reveal that for the very first time, America's rural population has dropped 0.1% - about 40,000 people.

As more baby-boomers hit retirement age, they are less interested in the peace and quiet of a rural town and more interested in the convenience of an urban area.

About 65 people now live in Mantador, a few less than the more than 100 that lived here in its heyday. Goerger says the main inconvenience is driving to Wahpeton or Hankinson for groceries but he wouldn't trade his farmtown life for anything.

Goerger: "I like the quiet. Most of the people are great. It's a nice place to live."

About 15 percent of the U.S. population lives in rural communities.