Counties in Kentucky With the Most Rapid Population Decline

Exploring the 5 Counties in Kentucky With the Most Rapid Population Decline

Kentucky, home to approximately 4.5 million residents, exhibits disparate growth rates across its counties. Based on the 2020 census findings, specific regions, notably in the eastern and southern parts of the state, have witnessed noteworthy declines in population over the past decade.

These population decreases stem from diverse factors, encompassing economic challenges, limited prospects, outward migration, an aging populace, and the impact of natural disasters.

CountyPopulation in 2010Population in 2020Percentage Decline

How Does This Compare With the Population Growth of Other States?

As per the U.S. Census Bureau, the population growth of various states exhibits considerable diversity, influenced by factors such as geographic location, economic conditions, migration patterns, and birth rates specific to each state.

Certain states, particularly those in the South and West regions, have undergone significant population surges. In contrast, others, mainly situated in the Northeast and Midwest, have witnessed either population declines or a plateau. Here are some notable points regarding the population dynamics of different states:

1. Fastest-Growing State (2010-2023): Utah

Utah experienced the most rapid growth in the U.S. from 2010 to 2023, boasting a substantial increase of 23.88%. This surge is predominantly attributed to the state’s elevated birth rate of 14.9 per 100,000 residents.

2. Slowest-Growing State (2010-2023): West Virginia

West Virginia recorded the slowest growth in the U.S. during the same period, with a total decline of 3.82%. This decline is primarily linked to factors such as an aging population, low birth rate, and outmigration.

3. Most Populous State (2023): California

In 2023, California held the title of the most populous state in the U.S., boasting an estimated population of 39.8 million. Notably, California experienced a rare negative growth rate of -0.06% in 2020, marking the first instance in its history.

4. Least Populous State (2023): Wyoming

Wyoming claimed the position of the least populous state in the U.S. in 2023, with an estimated population of 581,075. Furthermore, Wyoming registered a negative growth rate of -0.29% in 2020, the second-lowest in the nation.

5. Highest Birth Rate (2020): South Dakota

South Dakota secured the top spot for the highest birth rate in the U.S. in 2020, recording 14 births per 1,000 population. Conversely, New Hampshire held the distinction of having the lowest birth rate at 8.3 births per 1,000 population.

6. Highest Net Migration Rate (2020): Idaho

Idaho boasted the highest net migration rate in the U.S. in 2020, with 18.6 migrants per 1,000 population. In contrast, New York had the lowest net migration rate, standing at -8.8 migrants per 1,000 population.

The following are the five Kentucky counties that have experienced the most pronounced population declines from 2010 to 2020:

Lee County

Situated in the Appalachian Mountains, this county experienced the most significant population decrease in the state, witnessing a decline of 16.84%. The county’s population decreased from 7,887 in 2010 to 6,556 in 2020. Lee County grapples with various challenges, including issues like poverty, unemployment, opioid addiction, and flooding.

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Martin County

This Appalachian region county experienced the second-largest decrease in population, witnessing a decline of 15.75%, with its resident numbers dropping from 12,929 in 2010 to 10,894 in 2020. Martin County grapples with challenges such as water contamination, a diminishing coal industry, and insufficient infrastructure.

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Harlan County

This southeastern state county experienced the third-largest decrease in population, with a decline of 15.67%, leading to a drop from 29,278 residents in 2010 to 24,696 in 2020. Harlan County’s population decline can be attributed to factors such as the collapse of coal mining, environmental degradation, and health issues.

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Knott County

Situated in the eastern region of the state, this county experienced the fourth most significant decrease in population, with a loss of 16.67% of its residents. The county’s population decreased from 16,346 in 2010 to 13,621 in 2020. Factors contributing to Knott County’s decline include economic distress, corruption, and emigration.

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Pike County

This county, in the eastern part of the state, had the fifth highest population decline, losing 12.71% of its residents. The county’s population dropped from 65,024 in 2010 to 56,761 in 2020. Some of the reasons for Pike County’s decline include coal industry downturn, natural disasters, and urbanization .

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Final Words

The five counties mentioned are the most notable instances of population decline in Kentucky, yet they are not isolated cases. Census data reveals that 66 out of the state’s 120 counties experienced a decrease in population between 2010 and 2020, with only 54 witnessing an increase.

The counties that saw population growth were predominantly situated near metropolitan areas such as Louisville, Lexington, Bowling Green, and Cincinnati. This points to a discernible pattern of urbanization and regional inequality within the state, potentially influencing its economic, social, and political trajectory.

With more than two years of expertise in news and analysis, Eileen Stewart is a seasoned reporter. Eileen is a respected voice in this field, well-known for her sharp reporting and insightful analysis. Her writing covers a wide range of subjects, from politics to culture and more.