Relive the excitement of the Patriots’ path to their fourth Super Bowl Championship with “Pumped”, a special commemorative book from The Boston Globe. Order now.

Population shrinks in more counties

WASHINGTON — A record number of US counties — more than 1 in 3 — are now dying off, hit by an aging population and weakened local economies that are spurring young adults to seek jobs and build families elsewhere.

New 2012 Census estimates released Thursday highlight the population shifts as the US encounters its most sluggish growth levels since the Great Depression.

Continue reading below

The findings also reflect the increasing economic importance of foreign-born residents as the US ponders an immigration law overhaul. Without new immigrants, metropolitan areas such as New York, Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis would have posted flat or negative population growth in the last year.

With a slowly improving US economy, young adults are now back on the move, departing traditional big cities to test the job market mostly in the South and West. Also seeing big declines now are rural and exurban areas, along with industrial areas of the Rust Belt.

Census data show that 1,135 of the nation’s 3,143 counties are now experiencing ‘‘natural decrease,’’ where deaths exceed births. That’s up from roughly 880 US counties, or 1 in 4, in 2009.

By region, growth in the Northeast slowed last year to 0.3 percent, the lowest since 2007; in the Midwest, growth fell to 0.25 percent, the lowest in at least a decade. In the South and West, growth rates ticked up to 1.1 percent and 1.04 percent, respectively.

In the last year, deaths exceeded births in Maine and West Virginia .

Loading comments...

Wake up with today's top stories.

Want each day's news headlines delivered fresh to your
inbox every morning? Just connect with us
in one of the following ways:
or
Please enter a valid email
BostonGlobe.com will never post anything without asking. Privacy Policy
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com