The Center’s Three-Part Series: Stories and Interactive Features
In this series, the Center’s Lukas Keapproth and Mario Koran explore how three Wisconsin counties are coping with their population changes — and potential statewide solutions to rural population loss. From 2000 to 2010, while the state’s population grew by 6 percent, one-fourth of Wisconsin’s 72 counties lost population, with the declines concentrated in rural areas.
Part OneWould young people stay in rural area for mining jobs? In Iron County, which lost one of every seven residents from 2000 to 2010, residents say a controversial taconite mine may be the only way to reverse devastating population loss. Oct. 7, 2012.
A young mayor strives to rebuild jobs lost in paper mills. In Wood County, where almost half of the paper industry jobs disappeared during the past decade, local leaders are using a regional approach to boost existing industries. Oct. 8, 2012.
Hispanic immigrants help rural county stave off population dip. Dairy farmer Jeremy Meissner and farm manager Huron Mireles are part of the reason Clark County’s population is growing while nearby counties’ levels are declining. Oct. 9, 2012.
Multimedia and data
Click the map to explore which Wisconsin counties lost the most people between 2000 and 2010, and compare these shifts with changes in other states.
County-by-county comparisons of how population shifted in Wisconsin and in the U.S. between 2000 and 2010.
Audio slideshows: Why young people stay — or leave
Below, short profiles of some of the young people interviewed by the Center’s Keapproth and Koran. We recommend viewing these slideshows using the full-screen option at the lower right of each one. Click here to view the slideshows in a new page.
‘I’m a lifer’
Sonni Lauren, 31, is optimistic that family bonds and small-town roots will outlast economic insecurities in Iron County.
Last November, 26-year-old veterinarian Diana Care moved from the west coast to Clark County seeking solitude. Now she says, “I just wish there was some other young people like me who I could hang out with.”
Ryan Metz, a 22-year-old amateur baseball player from Marshfield, appreciates his home town and enjoys baseball. But he is still unsure of his future profession.
Logan Carlson, a 27-year-old reporter for the Marshfield News-Herald, wants more than the opportunities he sees in small, surrounding communities. “I don’t know what keeps people there. It wouldn’t keep me,” he says. “Too ambitious.”