A Map Tells the Tale of a Heartland that’s Emptying Out

The map is what caught my eye. It was the familar shape of the United States, but down the middle were red checks, next to pink ones, and on the far edges, light green and dark green checks. It showed population decreases and increases for every county in the country, red meant decrease, green meant increase.

This map was published in the Wall St. Journal on Monday and the headline above it read “Population Leaves Heartland Behind.” A photo showed an elderly couple enjoying lunch in a Kansas diner. There, like in most of the states where the red and pink checks were, the population is dropping and the young people have mostly already left.

In North and South Dakota, it was the red that dominated, likewise Nebraska, and Kansas. Our own two most western counties, Franklin and Berkshire, glowed pink, meaning we’ve held steady, zero growth.

North Dakota now offers immigrants huge incentives to move there. There is a very low unemployment rate, houses can be snapped up for $30-40,000, and if you don’t mind a tough winter, life can be good. Though the US population grew by 37 million in the past ten years, it’s clear that the new residents have chosen to stick the greener pastures, and not in our pink little Valley.