Many other rural places in the U.S. are in the same boat, and federal lawmakers worry the slow rural recovery is increasing political tension between urban and rural areas, as well as hurting the nation's overall economy.
"There has been more of a recognition that what happens in low-income communities bubbles up," said Daniel Davis, assistant vice president and community affairs officer at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. The average family in rural Mississippi must spend 40 percent of its household budget on housing, which Davis observed "makes it harder to save, for the future, for college, to make the decisions that households with more 'padding' can make."
At a conference on rural poverty earlier this week at Mississippi Valley State University, which is in Leflore County, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell acknowledged the gap between rural and urban recovery rates, Schneider reports.
"We say we are close to maximum employment and at the national level we are," Powell said. "There are pockets that are not. The obvious way to grow the size of the economy is to bring people in that are at the edges . . . Make it easier for people to get into the labor force and stay in the labor force." But rural entrepreneurs might not be able to get loans or mentorship to start their own business in the current economic conditions, he said, which could further slow rural recovery.