Boom or bust? Census shows more Kentuckians living near cities and rural exodus

Published: Apr. 17, 2019 at 3:33 PM EDT
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The growing divide between a population boom around Kentucky's cities and the mass exodus in the state's rural areas continues to pick up steam, according to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

With an 18.8 percent increase, Scott County ranks as the fastest growing county in the state between 2010 and 2018 bringing its latest population to 56,031.

Other central Kentucky cities among the ten fastest growing are Madison, Jessamine, and Fayette counties. Fayette County's 2018 population estimate is 323,780 which was a 9.5 percent increase over 2010.

Combined Bourbon, Clark, Fayette, Jessamine, Scott and Woodford counties make up the Lexington Metropolitan Statistical Area which Census estimates put at a population of 516,697 in 2018.

On the shrinking side, Census estimates show every county in eastern Kentucky lost population since 2010, and the region is home to eight of the ten sharpest declines. Martin County's 12.4 percent population decline leads the list.

Lee, Letcher, Leslie, Pike, Harlan, Floyd, and Perry counties also ranked among the 10 with the fastest shrinking populations since 2010.

In the nation, counties with the most significant numeric growth are all located in the south and the west, with counties in Texas taking four out of the top 10 spots.

By metropolitan area, Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas, had the most significant numeric growth with a gain of 131,767 (1.8 percent) in 2018, followed by Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz. with an increase of 96,268 (2.0 percent).

Migration, both domestic and international, as well as natural increase, contributed to the growth in each of these areas, with natural increase serving as the largest source of population growth in Dallas and domestic migration serving as the largest source in Phoenix.

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