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Expand chart
Data: U.S. Census Bureau; Iowa Community Indicators Program, Iowa State University; Chart: Chris Canipe

We hear much about two enormous U.S. and global trends — urbanization and aging. In most countries, people are fleeing to the city, and the population on average is getting older.

Details: Here in Iowa, you can see this happening in real time: The state's 19 "micropolitans" — population centers outside the gravitational pull of any big city, which exercise their own pull on smaller communities in their own region — are shrinking and aging.

Why it matters: When you think of family farms and rural America — the bedrock of much of the country's traditions — those communities survive as a piece of the micropolitan orbit. The micropolitans "are the anchor socially, culturally, economically," says David Swenson, an economics professor at Iowa State.

  • In recent decades, though, local jobs in manufacturing and businesses that grow up around them have been withering up, leading young Iowans to move to larger cities for work.

Two examples: As you see above, Cerro Gordo County's 65-and-over population surged to 20.6% in 2016 from 11.8% in 1970, according to data compiled by Swenson. In Dickenson County, one out of four people are 65 or older, compared with 14.2% in 1970.

  • On average, senior Iowans are now 18.6% of the micropolitans, up from 11.6% in 1970.
  • The state as a whole has aged, too — with 16.4% 65 or older, compared with 11.4% in 1970.

"Many of the towns are caught in a cycle of blight and degradation," Swenson told me. "They don't necessarily have a Plan B."

Go deeper

What we know about the victims of the Indianapolis mass shooting

Officials load a body into a vehicle at the site of the mass shooting in Indianapolis. Photo:

Eight people who were killed along with several others who were injured in a Thursday evening shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis have been identified by local law enforcement.

The big picture: The Sikh Coalition said at least four of the eight victims were members of the Indianapolis Sikh community.

Pompeo, wife misused State Dept. resources, federal watchdog finds

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The State Department's independent watchdog found that former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo violated federal ethics rules when he and his wife asked department employees to perform personal tasks on more than 100 occasions, including picking up their dog and making private dinner reservations.

Why it matters: The report comes as Pompeo pours money into a new political group amid speculation about a possible 2024 presidential run.