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Report: Wisconsin near top in Midwest rural population growth

by Dee J. Hall / Wisconsin Watch, Wisconsin Watch
June 29, 2023

The downtown of Wisconsin border town Eagle River is booming, sparked in part by state grants. Wisconsin was tops in the country in percentage of COVID funds dedicated to businesses. (Ron French / Bridge Michigan)

A new Wisconsin Policy Forum report finds Wisconsin’s population growth in rural areas is more robust than most of the Midwest.

The group found Wisconsin’s 5.1% population growth between 2000 and 2022 outstripped 10 other Midwestern states. Only North Dakota’s rural areas grew more during that time. On average, the 12 Midwestern states lost 1.1% of their rural population since 2000, the group found.

It said four rural Wisconsin counties — Sawyer, Vilas, Bayfield and Burnett — are among the top 10 fastest growing in the state since 2010, with population gains of 10% or more. Door County came in at 9.9%. 

“It’s notable that the fast-growing rural counties listed above are dominated by many of rural Wisconsin’s top destinations for tourism and recreation, especially during warm-weather months,” according to the report. “They may be particularly attractive migration destinations for retirees, particularly those who already own vacation properties there. These places also may appeal to remote workers, a group whose numbers increased sharply during the pandemic.”

This article first appeared on Wisconsin Watch and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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