When we consider the essential bulwarks of our great republic, counties seldom come to mind. We say you can’t “fight city hall,” or that something would “take an act of Congress,” but there are no catch phrases for counties.
They are the common denominator of our governance. Every resident American lives in a county, borough or parish, save only for those who live in the cities of Baltimore, Saint Louis, Carson City, or several cities in Virginia. A good chunk of our taxes goes to them, and they’re accountable for a massive amount of our law enforcement, infrastructure maintenance and emergency response.
Counties are also a lens which offers an astonishingly vivid insight into the data released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau.
If you look at three decades of maps showing the percentage change in population by state, you’ll see that the South is the region which has changed the most due to the overall decline in population growth. The entire South except Louisiana was growing at a clip of 10 percent or more during the 1990s, but in the last decade only Texas, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina kept up that pace, and Mississippi lost population. Across the rest of the country, the patterns — growth in the West, stagnation in the Midwest and Northeast — were consistent across the three decades.
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