Small cities between 20,000 and 50,000 residents are losing their appeal to the demographic of those seeking wholesome neighborhoods, a stable economy and affordable living.

Recent census data shows that those long-established appeals are lagging behind bigger cities in attracting higher-educated residents.

According to an Associated Press article, in 200, small cities, which include remote towns and the distant suburbs known as “exurbs,” ranked at the top in the share of people with college diplomas. But these small cities have slipped recently, and poverty in small cities is growing.

The report said demographers point to a declining housing market, higher gas prices and the current employment market as the reason for more residents looking to live in bigger cities. There are more jobs in big cities, meaning less of a commute.

Smaller cities’ economies boomed in the middle of the decade, resulting in the growth of roads, schools and other public works project.

“Small towns have a certain appeal to people, and their quality of life there is backed up by the data,” said Mark Mather, associate vice president of the nonprofit Population Reference Bureau, according to the Associated Press.

“But as more people move in, small towns start to lose the qualities that attracted people there in the first place.”