2020 Census: Urban flight continues, while rural areas gain residents
by Paul Davenport Paul Davenport on

The United States population grew by 7.4 percent during the 2010s to 331,449,281, according to the latest Census Bureau figures, as historically dense population centers lost growth momentum and rural areas experienced big gains.

Broken down into what these latest figures mean for congressional representation, California, Illinois, New York, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia all lost a seat in the house (while West Virginia lost two seats) as migration to major urban centers slowed significantly.

On the flipside, Texas gained two seats in the House while Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon each gained one.

While these numbers represent the second-lowest decade of population growth rate by percentage since the Census Bureau began counting in 1910, the real headline for poll watchers is how increasingly decentralized and distributed the U.S. population has become

While New York and California remain among the most populous states in the nation, the reshuffling of representatives shifts the national political will slightly away from traditional coastal, urban hubs (ie. NYC, Los Angeles and San Francisco) to burgeoning “satellite” markets in the middle of the country (ie. Austin, Denver).

Utah and Idaho saw the biggest percentage increases in population since the 2010 census, which further supports the theory that Americans are no longer beholden to a specific job- or population-dense zip code for their livelihood. This is a phenomenon that started taking hold earlier in the decade but has only been accelerated as the pandemic forced businesses to support work-from-home initiatives.

Today, employees want to work from anywhere, and are wasting no time in leveraging greater employer flexibility to live on terms that work for their families.

According to AppNeta’s 2021 Work From Anywhere Outlook, roughly 20 percent of knowledge workers moved at least once during the pandemic. Now, employees are nearly evenly dispersed among suburban, rural and large city/urban areas, demonstrating that companies need to be able to provide the same level of user-experience wherever users log on.

This national decentralization is part of what’s fueling the Biden Administration’s proposed infrastructure bill, which would dedicate $100 billion toward expanding broadband access to every American.

A recent report from the Federal Communications Commission estimated that as of December 2019, roughly 14.5 million Americans were living in areas without access to fixed, reliable broadband, while Microsoft estimates that the number is significantly higher.

This broader trend of urban decentralization creates new challenges for already strapped IT teams, as delivering optimal internet connectivity to residential and rural communities requires employers and IT teams to set user expectations around the quality of their network performance. Enabling remote work requires a lot more than just sufficient broadband access out to knowledge workers, after all: The more decentralized an enterprise network becomes, the more stakeholders become involved in delivering business-critical workflows and traffic out to far flung remote users.

All of this is to say that no matter what infrastructure improvements take place in the future, IT will require a more diverse and scalable toolset to deliver on ever-higher employee expectations, regardless of where they are located (or even their ISP).


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Filed Under: Industry Insights

Tags: hybrid office , hybrid work , remote work , work from home , work from anywhere , enterprise network , enterprise IT , sprawl , broadband access , population , suburban , urban flight , deurbanization , decentralization , broadband , rural , urban , census , network performance monitoring , network management