- Associated Press - Thursday, March 22, 2018

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Recent census figures show that many of Arkansas’ smaller counties shrank in population, but larger counties saw growth.

The U.S. Census Bureau publicly released its latest population estimates on Thursday, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported .

Population experts said most metropolitan areas in Arkansas and nationwide have added to their populations since 2010, while about half of micropolitan areas shrank. Micropolitan areas have populations of at least 10,000 but fewer than 50,000.

The figures show 40 of the state’s 75 counties shrank from 2016 to 2017. But together those counties’ populations made up only about 806,000 people last year. The total population in the state’s 35 counties that showed growth was estimated at nearly 2.2 million people.

Population changes can include people migrating from rural to urban areas that have more amenities and economic opportunities.



Younger people specifically want to live in more urban areas because of a variety of industries, higher education institutions and diverse economies, said Mervin Jebaraj, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

Migration is important for continued economic growth because younger people aren’t having as many children as older generations, said demographer Pam Willrodt with the Arkansas Economic Development Institute.

“It’s just expensive,” she said.

Experts are anticipating population changes that may alter political boundaries and the state’s priorities. Based on the past eight years of data, many legislative districts will be more urban than rural, according to Jebaraj.

“That means the policymakers need to look at the state through a different lens than they have in recent years,” said Willrodt.

The state’s total population last year was just over 3 million, an increase of 0.5 percent from the previous year, according to the data.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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