Rural Out-Migration

There’s nothing like bad news from one’s hometown to bring a blogger out of silence. I grew up in rural Pocahontas County, Iowa.

Census figures released last week put an exclamation point on years of anxiety about population loss in rural Iowa.

The problem is most severe in the quadrant west of I-35 and north of I-80. This area includes all eight counties that lost at least 5 percent of their populations between 2000 and 2005: Audubon, Calhoun, Cherokee, Ida, Kossuth, Monona, Pocahontas and Sac.

Without enough new workers, the average age is rising in nearly every part of those counties, while school enrollment is declining.

The report also solidifies the prediction that Iowa will lose another U.S. congressional seat when redistricting occurs in 2011. Iowa has steadily lost seats since a high of 11 seats in the early 1900s. The state last lost a seat in 1990 bringing Iowa down to five current Representatives.

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