Almost a quarter of America's 3,142 counties are slowly dying, according to the US Census Bureau. Some 760 counties are now recording more deaths than births, census figures show, and what demographers call "natural decrease" is accelerating as the downturn pushes birth rates down and forces young people to move to where the jobs are. "Dying counties" can be found all over the country, from the Rust Belt to rural areas in the South, and even in some parts of fast-growing California.
"Natural decrease is an important but not widely appreciated demographic phenomenon that is reshaping our communities in both rural and urban cores of large metro areas,"a demographer tells the International Business Times, noting that areas with shrinking populations tend to be those that attract fewer Hispanic immigrants. The first place where natural decrease became a statewide trend over the last decade was West Virginia, and census data suggest Maine, Vermont, and Pennsylvania will soon be next.