Friday, January 06, 2023

264 of 304 persistent high-poverty counties are rural: Black Belt, Delta, Appalachia, Ozarks, Rio Grande, Native lands

Map by Economic Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture

A fresh review of data from the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows counties with continuous high poverty since 1960 are largely rural, reports Jody Heemstra of Dakota Radio Group News

President Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty and the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 helped move many counties out of high-poverty status, but in more than 300 counties, most of them rural, high poverty has persisted: "In 1960, 78 percent of U.S. counties had poverty rates of 20 percent or more. Among them, 28 percent continued to have high poverty through 1980," Heemstra reports. "As of 2019, there were 304 counties—13 percent of the counties with high poverty in 1960—that consistently had poverty rates of 20 percent or more over the last 60 years."

Heemstra writes, "The majority—264 counties—are rural counties and are clustered in the Appalachian states; the Black Belt in the South; the Mississippi Delta; the Ozarks region of Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and southeast Kansas; the Southwest; and in counties with large American Indian and Alaska Native populations."

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