In the little gap between the end of an old year and the true beginning of the next, we thought it might be a good time to look at rural America at large.

Here is a map prepared by the good folks at the Economic Research Service (at the U.S. Department of Agriculture). It shows population changes in non-metropolitan counties between 2000 and 2006.

The average U.S. population growth during that time was just under 1 percent. The rural counties in yellow grew faster than the national average. The blue counties grew, but at slower rates than the nation as a whole. The counties shaded dark red lost population during those years. (The white areas are cities.)

If you click to the jump, you can see that counties in rural America were about evenly split between those that gained population from 2000 to ’06 and those that lost residents.

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