The population of most towns in Bennington County fell in the past decade, reflecting a state trend, U.S. Census Bureau data shows.
Bennington County shrank by about 4 percent, or 1,500 people. It went from an estimated 37,125 in 2010 to 35,631 in the middle of last year, according to Census Bureau figures released last week.
The state as a whole also saw a decline — though a smaller one at 0.3 percent or 1,748 residents — going from 625,737 to 623,989 residents.
At the start of the decade, Vermont's population ranked No. 49 among all the states plus Washington, D.C. The national capital and Wyoming made up the bottom two. As of July 2019, Vermont and Washington, D.C., had swapped positions.
When you zoom into the towns, all but two of Bennington County's 17 municipalities showed a population decrease between 2010 and 2018. The two other municipalities held steady.
Woodford registered the biggest population loss of 4.95 percent, equivalent to 21 people, according to bureau data as of June last year.
The second biggest drop is seen in Bennington, at 4.86 percent or 766 residents. This is also the largest decline in numbers from any town countywide.
In third place is Readsboro, which went down 4.85 percent, or 24 people.
The two places whose populations didn't change were Searsburg (population 109), as well as Glastenbury (8), which is formally considered an "unorganized town."
The population decline within the county is due to multiple factors, which analysts say reflect bigger-picture trends. Members of the baby boom generation, born between 1946 and 1964, are beginning to pass away. And in Vermont — a state that has one of the lowest fertility rates in the nation — not many babies are born each year. "People are postponing having kids or having fewer children," said Michael Moser, research specialist at the University of Vermont's Center for Rural Studies.
The latest Census Bureau data shows that between 2010 and 2019, Vermont recorded 54,592 births and 52,539 deaths: a net increase of just over 2,000 in a decade.
Meanwhile, the decades-long trend of people moving away from the U.S. northeast continues, with older people heading to warmer places like Florida.
Vermonters moving within the state, Moser said, are heading to Chittenden County, drawn to the area's greater opportunities for work, social interaction, cultural activities.
The state also isn't a top population for migrants.
In the past decade, according to Census Bureau figures, Vermont drew 7,501 foreign immigrants but lost 10,907 Vermonters to other places in the U.S.