I’ve written before about the fact that the U.S. population is growing at its lowest rate since the Great Depression. But what does this statistic really tell us?

Well, among other things, it means that for the first time in American history, large swaths of the country are essentially emptying out. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, “a near-record number of U.S. counties are experiencing more deaths than births in their communities, a phenomenon demographers call natural decrease.”

Of course, there’s a more common term for it: ghost town.

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