Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/643

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623
THE DECREASE OF RURAL POPULATION.
 
  United States. Urban. Rural.
1890 62,622,250 26,142,025 36,480,225
1880 50,155,783 17,775,076 32,380,707
Increase 12,466,467 8,366,949 4,099,518
Percentage of increase 24·86 47·07 12·66
 

In 1880 the 3,715 places which in 1890 had more than 1,000 inhabitants each, had but little more than half as many inhabitants as resided outside their limits, yet during the decade their absolute increase was more than twice as great as was that of the rest of the country, and relatively nearly four times as great. Striking as this difference is, it tells only a small part of the story; for such increase as there was, was confined almost entirely to the portions of the country hitherto altogether unsettled or but scantily peopled.

In northern Maine, in the Adirondacks in New York, in northern Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, in southern Florida, in the Dakotas and Texas, and in nearly all the States and Territories west of the Missouri, large areas of hitherto unsettled land received inhabitants. The settled area, by which phrase the Census Office means the area on which there is a population of at least two to the square mile, increased during the decade 377,715 square miles, or more than the entire settled area of the country at the beginning of this century, and nearly as much as the areas of France and Germany combined. Almost three millions of the entire four millions of increase in rural population was in the States west of the Mississippi, and the remainder was in the comparatively thinly settled States south and west of Virginia and in northern Michigan and Wisconsin. Speaking generally, it may be said that there was an absolute decrease in the rural population of all the more densely populated agricultural regions of the country.

The diminishing population of rural New England has long been the subject of melancholy comment. During the last decade no less than 935 of its 1,592 cities, towns, and plantations, whose population was separately returned both in 1880 and 1890, lost inhabitants. Of these 935 no less than 814 were towns or plantations which in 1880, and of course in 1890, had less than 2,000 inhabitants, or in other words were mostly rural places. The aggregate population of the 1,246 towns, plantations, and "gores" which in 1890 had each less than 2,000 inhabitants, in 1880 and 1890 compared as follows:

 
1880 population 1,050,060
1890 population 977,830
Decrease in decade 72,230
Percentage of decrease 6·88