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The Fastest Shrinking City in Every State

Selma, Alabama

Selma, Alabama is rich in history, but that isn’t enough to keep people in town. Since 1960, people have been leaving the city in droves. The city started with a population of 28,385 in 1960, but the 2010 census shows a drop to 20,756.

For 2018, the U.S. Census estimated that there was another 13.8% drop to 17,886 residents. Signs show that this shrinkage is only going to continue into 2020. 

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Anchorage, Alaska

Alaska has been dropping in population for a while. The state has offered incentives to move there, but it doesn’t seem to be working. Anchorage had a 12% population boom in 2010, but now the estimated population dropped .01% to 291,538 – that’s around 288 people.

KTUU reported early 2019 that 18 of the state’s 29 boroughs and census areas lost population. Alaska has worked toward attracting new residents from other states, but only time will tell if they work. 

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Douglas, Arizona

Arizona has seen a huge population boom since the 2000s, but those residents don’t want to live in Douglas. In 2010, Douglas had a population of 17,378, but now, the 2018 estimation is 15,978. Maybe they’re moving to Phoenix, which saw a 14.8% increase!

Some sources report that it’s because the city is close to Mexico, and there’s a lot of crime, but the reality of the situation is that the crime rate is much lower than the big cities.

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Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Pine Bluff is known for being one of the lower-income areas in Arkansas, and citizens have had enough of it. The residents have been leaving the town for the last couple of decades. In 1990, the population was 57,100, but the 2018 estimate is 42,271.

Another contender is Helena West-Helena, which lost an estimated 15% of its population in 2018. In 2011, the cities had just 12,106. Considering the cities had just 15,012 in 2000, people are fleeing at an alarming rate. 

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Corcoran, California

California is one of those states that increases every year, although 2019 reports state that this is the slowest growth in recorded history. Why? Could it be because of places like Corcoran? This town lost an estimated 12.6% of its population, dropping to 21,676.

Maybe those taxes are a bit too much for the residents. Others state that there just isn't anything to do in the town, and it's pretty far away from the big cities. Fresno is the closest and it's about an hour away in good traffic.

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Sterling, Colorado

Colorado has seen a population boom as of late. Because of that, nearly every city and town saw an explosion in the number of people moving there. All of them except Sterling. This little city lost 7.87% of its population, which leaves them with 13,630 people.

Sterling is working hard to attract new people, and in 2019, it did see job growth of 0.7%, according to BestPlaces. Recent events in early 2020 could have changed that, but it will take time before we know for sure. One thing we do know is that if the city loses many more, they may not be considered a city anymore.

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Norwich, Connecticut

Hartford and New Haven are both reportedly losing people, but Norwich beats them both. For 2018, the city saw an estimated loss of around 3.4%. Prior to this, it actually had a 12.1% growth, but that's where the buck stops.

As far back as the 1980s, the city has seen quite a bit of population loss. This isn't too odd after a boom, which occurred in the 1960s. Recently, the city is seeing job growth thanks to submarine manufacturing by Electric Boat. More jobs always means more people moving in. 

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Wilmington, Delaware

Wilmington has been dropping in population since the 2000s. Since then, it’s lost roughly 2.8% of its residents, many of those younger people. The population loss of those between the ages of 18 and 34 was as high as 23%, according to Delaware Online.

Despite being a shrinking city, Delaware Online also found that Wilmington schools are some of the best in the nation. This could attract parents looking to give their children a quality education. 

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Gladeview, Florida

Gladeview was originally part of Miami before jurisdiction was given up during the Great Depression. The sad part of it all is that it’s getting smaller every year. The tiny city has steadily lost people since the 1980s at a fast rate. 

In the '80s, the population was 18,919. In 2010, the population was recorded as 11,535. We’re guessing it won’t be over 10,000 once the next census comes in.  

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Cordele, Georgia

Cordele is struggling to keep people. In 2017, legislation passed in an attempt to reverse the decline, but it doesn’t seem to be working. In 2000, the town had 11,608 people, and the 2018 estimated number is 10,638.

The next attempt to prevent population loss could be a tax deduction for those who move to rural areas. That very well could work. Fox Businesses found that populations are actually growing faster in lower-tax areas. 

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Honolulu, Hawaii

Hawaii’s population is steadily declining, and Honolulu is feeling the hurt. The estimated 2018 census determined that Honolulu lost approximately 11.1% of its population.

The biggest reason people are likely leaving is that it’s just so expensive in Honolulu. Numbeo estimates that the cost of living in Honolulu is nearly 30% higher than in Austin!

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None in Idaho

Something is happening in Idaho. So far, estimated census results show that every city in the state is growing! The smallest growth is happening in towns with around 10,000 in population.

Mountain Home is one of those, where the population grew by nearly 82% since 1990! In the last decade alone, the small city grew by 1.7%. Turns out Idaho is the next hotspot. 

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Rock Island, Illinois

Once upon a time, Rock Island was booming, but now? Not so much. Since the 1980s, Rock Island has been hemorrhaging residents and recent calculations put it at a loss of 3.4% between 2010 and 2018.

This isn’t an unusual trend for Illinois. There are tons of cities losing people, including Chicago. They’re just struggling to keep and attract people. Instead of the big cities, people are choosing to move to small cities and towns. 

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Gary, Indiana

The Guardian recently reported that Gary, Indiana is dying. The city was built around manufacturing, and now, that industry is mostly gone. The desire for steel decreased, so companies have shut down right and left. 

Even though a few factories still remain, Gary has steadily lost people since 1960. The most recent estimates show a 21.98% loss in 2010 and an estimated loss of 6.2% in 2018.

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Clinton, Iowa

Clinton is a small city, and it’s been losing people since the 1970s. Then, it had a population of 34,719, but today, that number is a mere 25,184. Recently, Clinton had the biggest drop in recent history, losing an estimated 6.3% of its residents.

Clinton isn't the only town getting smaller. Camanche also experienced a drop, although it's a much slighter drop. In seven years, it went from 4,448 to 4,305 people, according to Clinton Herald

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Coffeyville, Kansas

Montgomery County is shrinking every year, and things aren't looking good. The most recent losses put it at -7.7%, and the city feeling the most hurt is Coffeyville, which lost an estimated 9% since 2010.

The city recently was home to an Amazon warehouse, but the employer pulled out in 2014, which caused a loss of 10,000 jobs. Then Southwire closed and 200 were gone. The numbers only got worse from there.  

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Newport, Kentucky

Newport, Kentucky may be small, but it is a major urban center of North Kentucky. Unfortunately, people have been leaving the city since the 1950s. Most recently, populations have been leaving en masse, with Newport losing 10.4% between 2000 and 2010.

Recent estimates from the census put the city at losing 1.7% more. One way Newport is working on attracting new residents is by revamping the historic district. People are responding positively to the change, so who knows what can happen 10 years from now. 

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Shreveport, Louisiana

Recent estimates from the U.S. Census found that Shreveport has lost quite a number of residents. Since 2010, it lost 5.2% of its population. As the population drops, you'd hope officials would work harder to maintain their population, but that's not the case. 

When asked, the mayor seems to be in denial, saying, “We are diligently working to obtain accurate population numbers and will be able to better understand our population trends once this process is complete.”

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Bangor, Maine

Maine is feeling a huge loss – a population loss that is. Out of every city in the state,  Bangor is worst of all. One by one, the six paper mills that really kept the town alive shut down. That's what really began to go downhill. 

Since 2010, approximately 3.2% of Bangor’s residents have fled to another state that offers more opportunities. Bangor is just one city in four counties that have suffered losses.

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Baltimore, Maryland

The most recent estimates (2019) from the census show that Baltimore lost a ton of residents. In fact, this is one of the biggest population losses in one year since 2001.

Approximately 7,300 people, or 1.2% of the population, left. Since 2010, around 3% have fled. The fact of the matter is that Baltimore’s population has been in decline since 1950.  

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Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Pittsfield’s problems began around the 1980s when General Electric decided to leave the city. When the jobs left, Pittsfield began hemorrhaging residents – around 26.5%. They had no choice but to look for other employment opportunities. 

Now, those who live there are fighting their way back to be considered a city once again. Hopefully, Pittsfield can see a little more growth as two of its largest employers, Berkshire Health Systems and General Dynamics, increase employment numbers.

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Flint, Michigan

The reason for Flint’s decline is obvious. Since the late ‘60s, the city has faced several crises including GM downsizing its workforce from 80,000 to 8,000. In addition to this, crime rates have shot through the roof, making it a very dangerous place to live.

As if that weren't enough, the outbreak of Legionnaires disease in the water began in 2014 (and is still a major issue). In 1960, Flint’s population was 196,940. Estimates in 2018 put the population at 95,943, which amounts to a loss of nearly 101,000 people (or 51%).  

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Fairmont, Minnesota

Fairmont has had a few problems as of late. In March 2015, Fairmont Foods closed, and 167 jobs went with it. Then, Fairmont hospital began struggling after Mayo takeover.

Finally, 2019 showed that residents were struggling to pay rent as it increased 49% higher than income. Since 2012, the percentage of people in poverty rose from 11% to 14%. After hearing all that, it isn’t a surprise the city lost 5.4% of its residents since 2010.

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Jackson, Mississippi

Overall, Mississippi’s population is declining. When asked, one resident said that there was a lack of jobs and entertainment. The unemployment rate is 5.5% as of October 2019, which is much higher than the national average of 3.9%.

This unemployment rate is also higher than neighboring states, like Alabama which has a 2.9% unemployment rate. Jackson has been hit the hardest, losing 5.2% of its residents since 2010.

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St. Louis, Missouri

Once upon a time, St. Louis was the eighth-largest city in America. It was booming, and everyone wanted to be there. Now, that number is all the way down to 64. Since 2010 alone, St. Louis has had a population loss of 5.2%.

If you go back to the height of the city (1950), St. Louis has lost 64% of its residents. Unfortunately, the city has had a steep decline due to civic issues and poor leadership. Now, it’s attempting to redefine itself, but it may be too late.  

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Anaconda, Montana

This Anaconda don’t – that is, they don’t keep their residents! They were once large enough to call it a city, but in 2000, they fell below 10,000 people. That trend is only getting worse as the recent estimates show Anaconda lost 1.8% of its residents. Now, they have a mere 9,131 citizens.  

Part of this could be due to the on-going court case where a shuttered Anaconda smelter left arsenic in the land. The EPA ordered a cleanup, but homeowners say it wasn't good enough. This court case has been going on for several years, so it's no wonder people are leaving. 

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North Platte, Nebraska

Lincoln County is having trouble lately. The entire country has been declining in population, and the biggest contributing city is North Platte. Since 2010, the census estimated that it lost 3.7% of its residents.

The president of the North Platte Area Chamber and Development Corporation stated, “we’ve got some work to do. There’s probably a lot of contributing factors but certainly a down economy would impact that for sure.”

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Lovelock, Nevada

Apparently, Nevada is pretty appealing. For that reason, all cities have held onto their residents and even attracted new ones. Even Las Vegas increased in population by 10.4%. The biggest town that lost residents is Lovelock, which saw a huge decrease of 17.5%. Since it’s a small town, that only amounted to 395 people.

In June 2019, a federal grant from the EPA awarded $600,000 to Lovelock and Pershing County to help revitalize the area. The grant will be used to clean up community gateways, an industrial park, the downtown corridor, and former mine sites. 

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Claremont, New Hampshire

New Hampshire is small, so it doesn’t have a lot of cities. Of those, most people live in one of three places, Manchester, Nashua, and Concord. All of these cities increased in population, but Claremont can’t say the same. This small city lost 2.9% of its people, which leaves the 2018 estimate at 12,967.

A report from Eagle Times found that property taxes in Claremont is the highest in the state. In addition to this, the median household income is less than 70% of the state's median. It's obvious that people just can't afford to live in Claremont. 

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Ocean City, New Jersey

Ocean City is among the nation's fastest shrinking cities. The population of the city dropped by 5.6% since 2010. That only pales in comparison to the 2000 to 2010 drop of 23.9%.

What happened? It could be because people just can’t afford to live there. Taxes in New Jersey are outrageous, and the median home cost in Ocean City is a jaw-dropping $617,500.  

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Lordsburg, New Mexico

Unlike many states of the states around it, New Mexico just can’t attract people. New Mexico has had a stagnant population since 2010, and many experts claim it’s due to a faltering economy.

Lordsburg is feeling the most hurt, losing 13.2% of its population since 2010. Even before that, they lost 17.2%. Soon, there won’t be anyone left in the small city.  

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Niagara Falls, New York

Niagara Falls has struggled to remain a city in the past. The 2010 census showed that the city lost more than half its population since the 1950s. It’s getting even worse since 2018 estimates put the population at 48,144, which is another 4.1% loss.

Those numbers are awfully low considering Niagara Falls had a huge population of 102,394 in 1960. Many of the issues point to a decline in heavy industry, but Niagara Falls State Park continues to be one of the biggest tourist attractions in the area.

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Goldsboro, North Carolina

Goldsboro has an…interesting history. In 1962, two 3.8 megaton hydrogen bombs were accidentally dropped close to the city. Thankfully, neither detonated. One was retrieved, but the other couldn’t be recovered.

In 2013, it was revealed that three out of the four switches to prevent detonation failed. We bring this up because it could indicate the reason 6% of the residents have fled the city. We certainly would do the same.  

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Jamestown, North Dakota

North Dakota isn’t used to losing people. In fact, census estimates in 2017 showed that the state was dropping in population for the first time in 15 years. Jamestown could be one of the causes.

In 2018, it was estimated that the small city lost 1.3% of its population. However, Jamestown isn’t a stranger to a falling population. Residents have been steadily leaving since the 1970s.  

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Youngstown, Ohio

Fewer and fewer people are calling Youngstown home. The 2018 estimate puts the population at 64,958, which is 3% lower than the previous year. Youngstown has had steady drops since 1950, when there were 168,330 residents.

Part of that is due to the collapse of the steel industry in the ‘70s and ‘80s, but recently, the complaint has been a lack of jobs with a livable wage. Younger people are leaving for better opportunities.  

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Lawton, Oklahoma

Lawton was once the third biggest city in Oklahoma. Then, it began hemorrhaging citizens, so the city hoped annexing Fort Sill would bring it back. Turns out, that’s just a pipe dream.

The population increased 4.4% in the next census (2010), but just eight years later, the estimates show a 4.1% drop. It could be that people are moving closer to major cities, choosing suburbs like Owasso and Bixby.

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Baker City, Oregon

Oregon is the ninth-fastest growing state in the nation, so finding a city that was declining was impossible. They’re all growing at an exponential rate, but smaller towns aren't experiencing the same growth. 

The largest place that’s losing residents is Baker City, which only lost 0.7%, which is a mere 71 people. We’re guessing they just moved to the suburbs of a larger city.

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Johnstown, Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is having a major crisis. First, we want to mention Pittsburgh, which lost 1.5% of its population since 2010. Since 1950, it's lost 55%. While that’s bad, towns like Johnstown are feeling it even worse.

The highest population was in the 1920s, when it had over 67,000 people. Now? Only 19,447 people still live there. All in all, that’s 71%! That’s why we chose Johnstown for this list.

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Warwick, Rhode Island

Rhode Island made headlines when 2018 revealed the state didn’t have enough people to keep two House seats. In an attempt to pump up population numbers, a bill was introduced to provide $10,000 in tax credits for people moving there. Warwick has experienced one of the worst populations at 2.2%. That accompanies a 3.7% loss from 2000 to 2010.

In March, the West Warwick Town Council weighed on whether or not the town should open a medical-waste processing facility. This could potentially pollute the air, and it will definitely cause Warwick to hemorrhage residents. Many residents have attempted to stop the construction of the facility via a petition. 

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Spartanburg, South Carolina

Of South Carolina’s 20 largest cities, Spartanburg was the only one that had a decline in population. In fact, the city has had a steady population decline starting all the way back in the ‘70s. Since then, the big city has lost 15.5% of its population.

Every other large city saw a population growth anywhere between 9.6% to 56.4%. Early 2020, Tindall Corporation, an architectural and structural company, stated it would invest more than $27.9 million to expand operations in Spartanburg. This could bring more opportunities and more people. 

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Hot Springs, South Dakota

Rural towns are having a hard time as people move closer and closer to the big cities, particularly choosing suburbs. Among those small towns is Hot Springs, South Dakota. From 2000 to 2010, the town lost 10.1%, and in 2018, the estimate was 5.4%.

Alternatively, all of South Dakota’s major cities gained anywhere from 9% to 18%. Hot Springs is still designated as a city, but we’re guessing it won’t be much longer since the population is now a little over 3,500.

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Dyersburg, Tennessee

While some lists state Memphis as having the most population loss, we found Dyersburg to be the actual city with the highest population loss. The 2018 U.S. Census estimate discovered Memphis grew by 0.6 while Dyersburg shrunk 4.4% since 2010. Previously, the city lost 1.8% from 2000 to 2010. This seems to be a trend Dyersburg can’t shake.  

In early 2018, Frazier Industrial Company opened a new manufacturing facility in Dyersburg, investing about $17.4 million and creating 120 new jobs. This could draw new businesses to the area, but only time will tell. 

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None in Texas

Maybe it's because of all the space or the opportunities, but Texas is another state that’s growing at an exponential rate. There aren’t any cities that are losing residents faster than they're gaining.

El Paso is seeing a lot of people leaving, but it’s seeing more people actually moving there! It actually grew by 5.2%. All we have to say is good job, Texas. Keep doing what you’re doing because people obviously like it.  

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None in Utah

Utah is one of the fastest-growing states out there, accompanying Idaho and Nevada. Every single city with a population of 10,000 or more saw growth. Some small cities like Saratoga Springs actually saw a population increase of 76.6%!

From 2000 to 2010, Saratoga increased 1,672% -- we can’t make these numbers up. The original population in 2000 was 1,003, and in 2010, it was 17,781. This makes it one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation.  

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Rutland, Vermont

Vermont isn’t exactly losing people, but it isn’t really gaining people either. That’s not something a small state wants to hear. Cities like Rutland have had an especially hard time lately.

From 2010 to 2018, the U.S. Census estimates that it lost 7.1% of its population. Rutland has actually lost 20% since the ‘70s, falling from 19,293 to 15,325.

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Portsmouth, Virginia

Lately, Virginia has been trying their best to break into the top 10 most populated states. That being said, the state has been having issues with more people moving out than in!

One of their biggest cities, Portsmouth, has steadily lost people since the ‘60s. In 1960, the population was 114,773, but the 2018 estimate puts it at 94,632 residents – that’s a 17% loss!

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Hoquiam, Washington

Washington’s population has exploded over the last few years. Since 2010, the population has almost increased by another million. Because of this, most towns have increased in size, but not all.

Hoquiam has had a lot of trouble keeping residents. Since 2000, the population has dropped by 5.5%, down to 8,596. Much of this is due to the fact that the small city just doesn’t have enough employment to keep people.

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Charleston, West Virginia

West Virginia has recently been ranked one of the worst places to live, so that could explain why people are moving out so quickly. In late 2018, a report found that over 11,000 people left in a year. One of the major cities, Charleston, has experienced the most loss.

Since 2010 alone, 8.1% of its residents have fled the big city to find homes elsewhere. Huntington is another city that’s had a major loss, dropping 6.3% of its residents since 2010. This accompanies a previous drop of 4.5% from 2000 to 2010.

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Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Even though Wisconsin is increasing in size, Milwaukee is getting smaller. Since 2010, the city has lost more than 3,000 residents. This only continues a trend that’s been happening since the ‘60s.

In 1960, the population of Milwaukee sat at 741,324. Today, that number is as low as 592,025 – that’s nearly 150,000 people. The plan is to bring more tech jobs into the city to keep up with other large cities like Chicago, Madison, and Indianapolis.

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Worland, Wyoming

As major cities in Wyoming grow larger, the smaller cities and towns are drastically shrinking. Worland is used to this kind of change. Since the 1960s, Worland has had a drastic population change, whether increasing or decreasing.

The most recent change saw a loss of 7.5%, which accounts for over 400 residents. Considering the city’s trends, we may see an increase in 2030, but only time will tell. There's a lot of time between then and now. 

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