A generation ago, urban centers were cauldrons of poverty, crime and broken families.
Today, the trend has reversed. America’s small, rural towns and their inhabitants are now
America’s new down and out.
Many of these hamlets once survived on agriculture, some on manufacturing and some on their natural resources.
But over the last 30 years, agri-business monopolies put small farmers out of business, factories closed and once valuable natural resources have been replaced with alternatives. And the Great Recession of 2008 dealt another crushing blow.
A Wall Street Journal report found that in 2013 more people died in the most sparsely populated United States counties than were born. That hasn’t happened since comprehensive records began to be kept in the 1930s. The total US rural population has declined for five straight years.
By a range of quality-of-life indicators that include stable families, educational attainment, teen births, reliance on welfare, unemployment and chronic disease and opiod addiction levels – now the scourge of rural towns – among others, rural America now lags behind cities, suburbs and small metro areas.