Iowa State Study Highlights Continuing Rural to Metro Population Change

DES MOINES, Iowa -- A bill to help rural Iowa is headed to Gov. Kim Reynolds’ desk.

This week the Senate unanimously approved the Empower Rural Iowa Initiative. The bill provides $25 million in housing tax credits for smaller communities and creates a grant program to expand broadband service in rural Iowa.

Census data show the help is desperately needed. Over the past decade, most of Iowa's small communities have gotten smaller but the state as a whole has been growing.

Iowa's population went up 3.6-percent from 2010 to 2018, but a select few counties are seeing most of that growth.

According to an Iowa State University study, 69 of Iowa’s 99 counties lost population during that time.

The biggest drops were in Emmet and Audubon counties.  Emmet has lost more than a thousand people over the past eight years.

If you live in the metro, you know where most of those people moved to.

Thirty counties grew in population and those were mostly in metropolitan areas.

In fact, a west metro suburban area led the way.  Dallas County jumped more than 36-percent in population. That’s ten times the state average.

Johnson, Polk, and Warren were the other three counties that saw double-digit growth.

So, how did they do it?  By attracting young adults and families.

That's what the Empower Rural Iowa Initiative aims to do.  Lawmakers want to invest in things like broadband internet and housing to get more young people to move to rural areas.

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