OXFORD, Miss. (WJTV) – What happens if Mississippi faces a decline in population? Population researchers at the University of Mississippi (UM) believe a population loss in rural parts of the state could cause Mississippi to lose a congressional seat.

Mississippi was one of the three states to lose a a seat in the United States House of Representatives after the last census in 2020. The state held four seats prior, and now has three. The largest population loss was in working-age people.

Now, Ole Miss researchers said Mississippi is losing its rural population and fear losing a seat after the next census in 2030. The 2020 census showed the biggest population losses happened in Hinds County (17,543 residents), Lauderdale County (7,277 residents), Washington County (6,215 residents), Coahoma County (4,761 residents) and Warren County (4,051 residents).

UM Director of the Center for Population Studies Anne Cafer said the state needs to focus on creating better healthcare, stronger schools and more access to broadband internet to attract people to Mississippi.

“If you are wanting people to relocate here, you have to make rural spaces in Mississippi attractive to young folks. They want hospitals, good schools and broadband,” said Cafer.