Share of population in rural areas hits record low

By HOPE YEN | July 27, 2011 | 4:29 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — New census figures show that rural places now account for just 16 percent of the nation's population. It's the lowest share ever as cities and suburbs boom.

The rural share has gone below the previous low of 20 percent in 2000.

Demographers say that large swaths of the Great Plains and Appalachia, along with parts of Arkansas, Mississippi and North Texas, could face significant population declines unless there is fresh investment that promotes jobs. These places posted some of the biggest losses over the past decade due to young adults leaving and aging residents moving past childbearing years.

In 1910, the population share of rural America was as high as 72 percent.