'Many rural areas can't attract workers because there aren't any jobs, and businesses won't relocate there because there aren't enough qualified workers. So they are caught in a downward spiral.'
The rural share is expected to drop further as the U.S. population balloons from 309 million to 400 million by 2050, leading even more people to crowd cities and suburbs and fill in the land around them.
In 2010, the census found cities grew overall by 11 percent with the biggest gains in suburbs or small- or medium-sized cities.
In fact, of the 10 fastest-growing places, all were small cities incorporated into the suburbs of expanding metro areas, mostly in California, Arizona and Texas.
In all, the share of Americans living in suburbs has climbed to an all-time high of 51 percent.
Despite sharp declines in big cities in the Northeast and Midwest since 2000 due to the recession, U.S. cities increased their share by 3 percent to a third.
The data was supplemented with calculations by Robert Lang, a sociology professor at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, and William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution.
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