Lee Co., Keokuk, rural Iowa losing population

Iowa is losing it's rural population.

The US Census Bureau says more and more people are heading for Iowa's metropolitan areas.

In southeast Iowa, Lee County's population dropped 5.8%, that's 2,190 people, down to 35,862

Keokuk's population dropped by 5.7% or 647 people, down to 10,780.

KHQA's Jarod Wells talked to Mayor Tom Marion to find out what that means for the city, and how the city can start growing again.

Keokuk Mayor Tom Marion says this census has been good and bad. He says the city was concerned the population was going to drop under 10,000. The population now sits at 10,780. But the mayor is also disappointed that the population dropped under 11,000.

What things are going to change?

Mayor Tom Marion said, "Government funding, things along those lines. Some of our bonding rating can be affected by size of the community."

Marion says people have been moving out of the city and to the county and others have been moving to Illinois for tax reasons. But on the state level, people are abandoning rural areas like Lee County all together and heading for bigger cities.

Marion said, "There's a lot of allure for the bigger cities, a lot more to do. People have to understand that in rural communities that you do have the ability to do things, you just have to go a little farther to do them. With that lower standard of living you can afford to do that."

Marion says the key to getting people back to rural areas including Keokuk is jobs.

Marion said, "that's what it's all about with any community, whether it's small, large, if you don't have the jobs people aren't going to stay there. We're an industrial town, we're not a rural town. The county is rural, but we're not, so that's what we have to do."

There was some good news coming out of the census for southeast Iowa.

Fort Madison's population grew 3.1%, the population now stands at 11,051 that's up 336 from the 2000 census.


The 2010 census shows two-thirds of Iowa's counties lost population, continuing a decades old trend of people migrating to metropolitan areas.

Iowa's population rose by 4.1% from the 2000 census, that's about 3 million people, but only 33 of the 99 counties experienced growth.

Here are some quick facts about Iowa population from the U.S. Census Bureau.