HAC in the News

Successful Farming – Rural America, Mostly White, is Becoming More Diverse

Successful Farming highlighted research from HAC and the Brookings Institute focused on diversity in rural America.

Three-quarters of rural Americans are white, a larger proportion than the roughly six in 10 for the nation overall, but the rural population is becoming more diverse, said a pair of analyses of Census data. The rural America of the future will be increasingly diverse and not as politically conservative as many assume, said the Brookings Institution…

“The overall rural population between 2010 and 2020 would have declined substantially if not for growth in its Hispanic population,” three researchers from the Housing Assistance Council said in the Daily Yonder. Hispanics make up 10.4% of the rural population and Blacks make up 7.4%. People of two or more races make up 4% of the rural population, and Native Americans are 2%, twice the national rate.

The Housing Assistance Council researchers said, “Despite advances made through the civil rights movement, labor struggles, and increased self-determination, the experiences and conditions of non-white rural residents and communities are often overlooked given their relatively small populations.”

The United States is Becoming More Racially Diverse – And So is Rural America

Race and ethnicity are central and often complex components of our national identity, history, and struggles. Racial dynamics also manifest themselves in our geographies and communities. Rural communities across the United States are comprised of many races, ethnicities, and cultural histories that have been essential to the story of the nation. Contrary to the long-standing narrative of racial and ethnic homogeny across rural America, many racial and ethnic groups are represented in rural communities.

Using the Census Bureau’s recently released P.L. 94-171 Redistricting data, the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) presents an initial review of characteristics, trends, and issues related to race and ethnicity in rural America.

Population Growth in Rural America was Small – and Uneven – Between 2010 and 2020

A Census in Rural America 2020 Update

Using Census 2010 and 2020 data, combined with methodology from the Housing Assistance Council’s Rural and Small-Town definition of location, HAC estimates that the rural population only increased by approximately 164,000 residents over the last decade. This population growth accounted for a .3 percent increase in the rural and small-town population. Overall, HAC estimates that approximately 60,551,165 people live in rural communities using the latest Census data.

Rural America is More Diverse Than You Think

Census 2020 Logo

The First Figures from the 2020 Census Are Released

The U.S. Census Bureau announced that the population of the United States on April 1, 2020, was 331,449,281. The U.S. population increased by 22,703,743 or 7.4 percent from 2010. The U.S. population growth from 2000 to 2010 was 9.7 percent.



All but four states and territories gained population over the last decade with Utah, Idaho, Nevada, North Dakota, and Texas experiencing more than 15 percent population growth. Puerto Rico, West Virginia, Mississippi, and Illinois lost population between 2010 and 2020.

The initial Census release was highly anticipated for implications on Congressional apportionment. According to the Census Bureau, six states will gain seats in the U.S. house of representatives: Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon will all gain one Congressional representative. Texas will gain two seats. Seven states, including California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia will each lose a seat in Congress.

The April 26, announcement was the first release 2020 Census data. The Housing Assistance Council will continue to update and analyze data from Census 2020 and its implications for rural America and rural people in the United States. Stay tuned.

Rural Population Change and Growth Cover Image

Rural Population Change and Growth


Rural Population Change and Growth Cover Image

Population change has been a factor in the vibrancy and vitality of rural areas for generations. Rural population decline over the past few decades is well documented, but like the rest of rural America, this trend is not monolithic and some communities are experiencing growth. Both population decline, as well as population growth, drive significant impacts in rural and small-town communities.

Population Change in Rural America

The 2010 Census revealed a population of 308 million people in the United States. This figure represents a population increase of roughly 27million, or a 9.7 percent from the year 2000. The nation’s population growth over the past decade was lower than in the 1990‐2000 period, when the national population grew by 13 percent. A variety of factors, including the recent economic downturn, reduced immigration, as well as other demographic factors, are largely responsible for this moderated population growth.

In this research brief, HAC provides and overview of the rural population, details population change in rural and small town areas, and provides state by state figures on rural population change.

Population Change in Rural America, (PDF)

Rurality in the United States

Rurality in the United States, (PDF)

For most of the nation’s history, the United States has been a predominately rural place. In 1790 the first U.S census revealed that 95 percent of the population resided in rural areas. The populous remained largely rural throughout much of the 19th century, but settlement patterns started to shift rapidly in the early 20th century in response to an increasingly urban-oriented economy. In 1920, the census reported, for the first time, that more than half of the U.S. population lived in urban areas. From this point until today, the trend towards urbanization in this nation has been unabated.

In this research note HAC analyzes what it means to be rural, how much of the US population lives in rural areas, and explains its definition of rural.