Wednesday, March 14, 2018

2018 county health rankings show rural America still behind

The County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program, a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, released its annual County Health Rankings report today. The report found that meaningful health gaps persist in the U.S. in different geographic areas and among racial and ethnic minorities. These health gaps are mostly the result of differences in opportunities in the places people live, the report says.

Of rural interest:

Child poverty rates overall are still higher than they were before the Great Recession, and have been especially slow to rebound in rural counties. Rural counties have the highest child poverty rates, at 23.2 percent, followed by large urban metro counties with 21.2 percent, smaller metro with 20.5 percent and suburban counties with 14.5 percent. The areas with the highest child poverty rates tend to be in the Southwest, Southeast, and in parts of Appalachia, the Mississippi Delta, and the Plains.

Teen birth rates have been declining steadily for more than a decade, but teens in rural counties have seen the least improvement and continue to have the highest teen birth rates (35.9 births per 1,000), nearly twice that of suburban counties (18.5 births per 1,000).

Low birthweights are most common across the Black Belt in the South, Appalachian coal country, and rural Colorado and New Mexico.

Unemployment is high in the Mississippi Delta, Appalachian coal country, Alaska, and other pockets across the country, especially along the Rio Grande.

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