Discussion Paper

Shifting Rurality: Is it Possible to Increase Population and Become More Rural?

Abstract: In January, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service (USDA-ERS) released the 2023 update of the Rural-Urban Continuum Codes (RUCCs), resulting in changes for many counties, including those in the Fifth District. The USDA-ERS developed the nine-code classification system in 1974 to identify a county's level of rurality based on its degree of urbanization and adjacency to a metro area: RUCC 1 is the least rural, and RUCC 9 is the most rural. Following each decennial census, the USDA-ERS does a full update of the RUCCs to reflect population and metro/nonmetro area changes. The RUCCs are often used by research organizations, including the Richmond Fed, to analyze trends for urban and rural areas at the county level. (See "Introducing Rural Spotlights.") Following the 2023 RUCC update, nine counties in the Fifth District became more urban, and 61 became more rural. Does this mean the district is becoming more rural, or are there other factors? This post explores the changes since the last RUCC update in 2013, and the implications of these changes on how we view rural and urban parts of the district.

Keywords: 5th district; demographic trends; rural; Rural-urban migration;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond

Part of Series: Regional Matters

Publication Date: 2024-04-11