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I recently wrote an article for Influence magazine with Tena Stone. Tena is director of research and training at OneHope, serves as a primary researcher for the Rural Matters Task Force in North America, and is part of a church plant in rural Georgia. It’s worth sharing here. God is on the move in rural communities, and it’s past time we acknowledge it and celebrate the work so many in rural ministry are doing. In Part 1, we gave an overview of the realities and talked about cultural homogeneity. Today, we talk about two more misconceptions about rural America.
The second misconception is that rural America is doing fine, while the inner cities alone are in decline. Though the general population of rural communities is diverse, there are challenges that are increasingly pervasive and common among many of these people groups. This is due in part to national trends in population migration.
Century - US - Urbanization - Percent - Population
Over the past century, the U.S. has seen ongoing urbanization. In 1900, roughly 35 percent of the population lived in metropolitan areas. Today, that number is 86 percent. Urban sprawl has overtaken many formerly rural counties, transforming and reclassifying them. Fewer than 50 million people currently live in the 1,976 counties that remain classified as non-metro today, and the collective population within those counties is shrinking.
The result is a smaller American countryside comprised of slower-growing counties with a reduced and stagnant economic potential. Despite a resurgence of jobs and rising wages since the economic downturn of 2008, recovery in rural America is slower. In fact, rural employment rates remain below pre-recession levels.
Percent - Decline - Manufacturing - Jobs - Jobs
A 25 percent decline in rural manufacturing caused 700,000 jobs to disappear between 2001 and 2015, with many of these jobs moving overseas. The jobs that do exist offer significantly lower salary rates than those in urban places.
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