Throughout the pandemic, the highest Covid-19 case rates and the lowest vaccination rates in the country have been found in persistently poor rural counties, the USDA said Wednesday in its annual Rural America at a Glance report. Those counties have also had low unemployment rates, suggesting residents continued to work despite the risk of infection by the coronavirus, said the report.
The rural poverty rate has exceeded the urban rate ever since the government began tracking both in the 1960s. The difference, 4.5 percentage points in the 1980s, has narrowed to an average of 3.1 points over the past 10 years, said the USDA in updating its rural poverty and well-being webpage.
Although the House Agriculture Committee's name screams "rural," three of its new members are urban Democrats: Reps. Bobby Rush from Chicago, Ro Khanna from Silicon Valley, and Luis Correa from Orange County, California.
Rep. David Scott of Georgia soundly defeated a California rival in a vote among majority-party Democrats on Thursday to become the first Black chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. Scott, who represents a suburban Atlanta district with 313 farms, pledged to tackle an array of issues, most prominently climate change and the rural-urban split, in the new session of Congress opening on Jan. 3.
Rural America was key to Donald Trump's election in 2016 and rural voters backed him again this year, although by how much is unclear. While one exit poll reported that 54 percent of small city or rural residents voted for Trump, the Daily Yonder said the president's performance in Ohio, a battleground state, "looks a lot like 2016," when he rolled up huge margins in rural counties.
For decades, the poverty rate has been higher in rural America than in metropolitan areas, a situation often attributed to an older, lower-paid, and less-educated rural population. A new USDA report says the gap between rural and urban areas widened, to 3.5 percentage points, during the economic recovery that began a decade ago.
Central Iowa’s Dallas County is growing rapidly as the Des Moines metropolitan area spreads westward, says Harvest Public Media in a look at life in two midwestern counties where rural is meeting urban.
The largest U.S. urban areas, with populations of 1 million or more, enjoyed a 2-percent expansion in the number of jobs since last June, while in rural counties "job growth was a bit more than a tenth of that rate, or 0.29 percent, or about 60,000 jobs," reports the Daily Yonder. In the 924 counties that are not adjacent to any metropolitan area, the number of jobs declined by just over 1,000.
SNAP Maps, a new interactive tool from the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), shows that, over a five-year period, "an average of 16% of rural and small-town households participated in SNAP, compared to 13% of households in metro areas," says Feedstuffs.