Rural counties with recreation-based economies are gaining population slightly while non-recreation rural counties are losing population, a new study finds.
Households moving to rural recreation counties also have higher incomes than those moving to non-recreation rural counties.
The report, Recreation Counties Attracting New Residents and Higher Incomes, explores local trends in population gains and losses in rural, micropolitan and metropolitan counties during 2010-2016. The study explores the role of recreation as an economic anchor for counties, particularly in the period of economic recovery following the Great Recession a decade ago.
“Rural places’ struggle since the recession with population loss, job loss, and growing economic distress have been well-documented,” wrote Megan Lawson, an economist with Headwaters Economics and author of the report. “This study finds that recreation may make the difference between gaining or losing population, particularly in rural counties…”