Last Updated: March 24, 2014
This article appeared in the March 2014 Rural Policy Matters.
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Question: Are poverty rates higher in metro or nonmetro counties in the U.S.?
Answer: Nonmetro counties. The U. S. poverty rate ($23,492 for a family of four) was 17.7% in nonmetro counties in 2012, compared to 14.5% in metro counties and 15.0% nationally. Many high-poverty nonmetro counties (those with poverty rates over 20%) have been poor for decades, and many of these are concentrated in the South and Southwest. The number of high-poverty nonmetro counties is also increasing. Between 2000 and 2011, 230 counties joined the ranks of high-poverty nonmetro counties, a 30% increase. Many of these counties are not adjacent to existing clusters, suggesting that rural poverty is both increasing and becoming more geographically widespread.
Read more from the March 2014 Rural Policy Matters.