Population: End of the Exodus

For three decades, they flocked to the cities from the land of cotton, the Great Plains, the corn belt and Appalachia. It was greater even than the great Western trek of the late 19th century. In 1940, 30.5 million Americans lived on farms. Only 10.5 million remain. Now the city-bound flow has slowed to a trickle. According to new data compiled by the Agriculture Department, the farm labor force (age 14 or older) has remained static during the past two years.

Sooner or later, the great migration had to taper off. After a...

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