Fastest Shrinking States In America


These states have the most people leaving in all of the USA.

Every 5 years, Americans move to another home. It’s not always a dramatic move – say going from California to Colorado. Often, it’s close by – across town or to another part of the state.

Every 5 years might sound like a lot, but that’s actually lower than it used to be. As a population, we’re getting older, and older people can’t move as easy as younger people can. Nowadays, mom and dad both have jobs, which makes mobility a tougher pill to swallow. And, data shows that we don’t job hop as often as we used to.

Which states are seeing the biggest population decline over time? Actually, there are exactly ten of them. The rest of the states have seen either slight increases or BIG gains in people. We’ll talk about where people are moving, and why everyone’s leaving.

So, grab your packing tape and don’t forget the goldfish. We’re going to explore America’s fastest shrinking states.

For more reading, check out:

The 10 States Everyone Is Leaving In America

1. West Virgina

Source: Public Domain

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-1.54% last year, and -4.11% since 2010

Which state is the fastest shrinking of them all? West Virginia is. There are many many reasons why the Mountain State has been bleeding residents. Of course, jobs have a lot to do with it. The unemployment rate here is about 25% higher than the national average. Thusly, two thirds of the people leaving are doing so for bigger paychecks. Or actual paychecks. And most interestingly, nearly 3 in 10 people leaving are young. That’s really high. It’s like you grow up in West Virginia and then you get the heck outta West Virginia as soon as you can.

People here are poor – where 20% live in poverty. It’s an older, unhealthy population – and part of the decline is just people are dying. There were more deaths than births here last year.

Sadly, addictions are a big problem in West Virginia, too.

2. Wyoming

Wyoming|Wy, WY

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Now Wyoming actually lost more people than any other state last year. But the state had seen a slight gain in people over the previous decade. That means Wyoming’s population decline is picking up steam.

Why are people leaving all of this? Mostly jobs and better economies elsewhere. Americans DO want to live in less crowded places these days, but the sweet spot seems to be suburbs outside of major metro areas. There aren’t any major metro areas in the Cowboy State.

The economy here – and the jobs – have been up and down over the last five years. Look at which states are right next to Wyoming – Idaho, Utah and Colorado. Those are three of the fastest growing states. They’re stealing Wyoming’s residents away.

Review Of by Gregory Marsh

I live in Cheyenne, Wyoming and its not boring here. Besides, we have a whole lot of nuclear weapons systems here…so does Montana and North Dakota ! See, we can be real fun if we choose to 😉

3. Illinois

Illinois|Il, IL

Source: Public domain

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-.64% last year, -1.41% last ten years

Our next fastest shrinking state is Illinois. Why? Taxes. The weather. Chicago. Crime. Nothing to do.

Every 5 minutes, someone leaves Illinois for another state. This state lost 104,000 people last year. Illinois is the only midwest state that didn’t grow last year, outside of Kansas.

Because the population has shrunk so fast here, the demand for housing has also gone down quite a bit. That’s impacted one of Illinois’ biggest industries – real estate. Less homes means less property taxes, which means the economy has sinking even faster.

And, they’re talking about hiking income taxes even more here this year. Which will mean more people will likely leave. Bye Illinois!

4. New York

New-York|Ny, NY

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The northeastern part of the US has been hit hard by an outward population migration. It’s been four consecutive years that the Empire State has lost people. Many of them are from upstate, a region which has been hit hard with manufacturing job losses. And the cold climate doesn’t help.

But it’s not just folks leavin the sticks. Last year, 131 people left New York City every single day. Lots of folks are burned out by the fast-paced life, and the high cost of living is just wearing on people.

Of course – many people are moving TO New York City as well. Two thirds came from abroad – that means other countries.

A lot of New Yorkers are leaving for southern states – especially Florida – which is the 5th fastest growing state of all. Mostly because it’s warm here, and there’s no income tax.

New Yorkers also flee to nearby New Jersey and Pennsylvania at a high clip.

Review Of by HomeSnacks User

I’ve ben to New York City on many occasions. During my first time visiting, I was surprised to see how clean the city was. There was many homeless people, but the city was much cleaner than I had anticipated. When I visit, I always see at least one Broadway show so that is usually the highlight of the trip. I also enjoy going out to eat at unique restaurants, shopping, and even falling victim to some of the tourist traps.

Some of my favorite places are Central Park, the Ground Zero Memorial, and the Met and MoMA art museums.

5. Connecticut

Connecticut|Ct, CT

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-.27% last year, -.45% last ten years

Mappy has no idea what day to day costs are. I haven’t really told you guys, but his family has been living with me for the last three years. I might have to do something about that.

But for now, we drop in on Connecticut for a LIVE VIEW of a very happy family packing their shit. Like Alaska before it, Connecticut’s population has dropped for six consecutive years. Families like this are moving out every day.

That’s kind of a weird way to pack. What are they doing with the plastic like that?

More than one in three people leave Connecticut because they retired. And three quarters are relatively wealthy folks. Connecticut had a net loss of 30,000 people last year – many to nearby New York, Massachusetts and California for some reason.

6. Alaska

Alaska|Ak, AK

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Get ready for a long drive. Good thing we have snow tires! We’re here in Alaska. At least for now. Cause, like a lotta other people, we’re leaving.

Six years in a row it’s been since Alaska had a net migration. That’s the longest ever! It’s tough finding good work up here in no man’s land, and it’s expensive for things like heating fuel, medical insurance and bear traps. JK.

Of course, it’s very cold and dark here. The older population is beginning to tire of that, and the younger population – well they don’t like not having amazing internet and Starbucks on every corner. So they leave.

Review Of by Lucas Adams

I live in Alaska and we do pay taxes. Only in anchorage do you not have to pay for taxes. Driving to anchorage is 41 miles but we do not have much traffic due to population.

7. Louisiana

Louisiana|La, LA

Source: Public domain

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-.32% last year, 2.21% last ten years
We go down south for the first time. And actually for the last time. Louisiana is only southern state that didn’t increase residents last year. Even Mississippi gained a few people. As we mentioned earlier, the south and the west are where we’re all moving.

The biggest destination for Louisianans is next door in Texas. A whopping 70% of people leaving Louisiana are doing it for better jobs. As you may know, if you don’t work in energy, the fishing industry, or in agriculture, it’s tough findin work here, mister.

And the lower the oil prices go, the poorer everyone here gets. Sadly.

Review Of by Marksmans 1013

I live in Louisiana and I love it. Just based on the stuff you used to make the list, like weather and bugs, Louisiana should be #1.

We have over 50% of the entire country’s wetlands, which makes it a major hotspot for mosquitoes, Crime rate is pretty high, and poverty is really high. Drugs are also a problem.

8. Hawaii

Hawaii|Hi, HI

Source: Public domain

More On Hawaii: Photos | Rent

-.55% last year, 3.57% last ten years

We had to fly our stuff out of our next shrinking state. Because renting a boat to move a couch and our pets just doesn’t seem prudent. Especially after we spent a FORTUNE trying to afford living in Hawaii.

When you have the highest cost of living in the nation, it’s hard to keep people around. Many of us can’t justify paying an average $672,000 for a house – even if this is your backyard.

Rent here is like 2 grand a month at best, and grocery costs are through the roof. No wonder the population has dropped here for three consecutive years.

Besides people leaving cause they can’t afford it here – there are fewer little Hawaiian babies being born. Aww. That’s too bad. Little Hawaiian babies are so cute.

Review Of by Joe Malapitan

I live in Hawaii…totally dark blue. I love it! I agree with pretty much with this. Something that a lot of people forget when they argue that states like Illinois, California, New York and New Jersey are bad places to live, well yeah there are some downsides to living in those states, but what there are a lot of too is opportunity. That’s something that’s missing in all of the states mentioned in this video.

9. Rhode Island

Rhode-Island|Ri, RI

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Teeny little Rhode Island ranks as the state with the second biggest outbound migration rate. What’s wrong with Rhode Island? Nothing really. When they asked people why they were leaving Rhode Island, nearly half said for jobs – we’re gonna actually hear that a lot. A quarter of people leaving are retiring – often to warmer southern states with less taxes. And it’s the wealthier people getting out of dodge. Hardly any of the poorer Rhode Islanders are leaving.

What about the fastest shrinking countries? Most are in Eastern Europe – places like Bulgaria, Lithuania, Latvia, Serbia, Ukraine. Japan’s culture shift has meant that it’s on pace to lose about 20 million people in the next 30 years – they’re just not having enough kids to keep up with the aging population. Same goes with Italy.

The countries growing the fastest – all are in Africa. A high fertility rate and better medical technology means people are living longer here – and the population growth is exploding. However, these countries are all very poor, which is a big problem in this part of the world.

10. Kansas

Kansas|Ks, KS

More On Kansas: Photos | Rent

-.1% last year, 1.82% last ten
So here we go – hoppin’ in the truck. This is gonna be fun everyone! A new adventure.

Anything is better than Kansas. No. Kansas isn’t so bad, is it? Well clearly it’s not the bees knees, since it’s our tenth fastest shrinking state. We actually have exactly ten states in the country that saw population declines last year. Kansas barely qualified – it lost ONLY .1% of its population of late, which isn’t so bad.

But the population decrease is accelerating here, as Kansas had a smallish 1.8% population increase over the last decade.

Why are people leaving such a pretty state? Jobs mostly. I mean the schools are pretty good. The cost of living is also very reasonable. The biggest demographic moving out of Kansas are older people – folks over the age of 55.

She couldn’t wait to get out of here. But then she came back and realized she actually kinda missed it.

Now the opposite – the fastest growing state – is the state of Idaho, which saw a 4.1% growth rate last year, and a 16.2% population increase over the last decade. But Utah grew even faster in the last ten years – with an 18.2% growth rate. Both of these states have a booming economy and an exceptional cost of living.

Wrapping Up The Fastest Shrinking States In The US

So, next time you’re looking around, wondering why on earth you’re stuck. Remember this: You’re not. Take action and move on to greener pastures. You’ll be a lot happier. You can always come back.

Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to me I don’t want to be here
Just know I’m not alone
I don’t want to make this state my home.

For more reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Fastest Shrinking States In The US

Rank State
1 West Virgina
2 Wyoming
3 Illinois
4 New York
5 Connecticut
6 Alaska
7 Louisiana
8 Hawaii
9 Rhode Island
10 Kansas

About Nick Johnson

Nick has been working and writing about real estate for almost ten years. He's written about everything from the best places to live to the most boring places to live.

Nick's the creator of the HomeSnacks YouTube channel that now has over 140,000 subscribers and is an excellent source to learn about different parts of the country.

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