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Report: Social Security Economics for Rural Idaho

November 3, 2011

BOISE, Idaho - Idaho's small towns would be hardest hit by any cuts in Social Security, according to a new analysis released by the rural-news website, the Daily Yonder. The Center for Rural Strategies survey says rural areas have a higher percentage of people who receive those benefits.

Economist Mark Partridge at Ohio State University says the loss may appear small on an individual basis, but its reach would be broad.

"Small businesses, restaurants, grocery stores, hardware stores - all of these are going to feel some effect if a lot of their steady customers, the ones who spend their money locally, have less."

In Idaho's metropolitan counties, about 15 to 20 percent of the population receives Social Security benefits, while in the rural counties, that figure more commonly is above 20 percent - and it is as high as 50 percent in Lewis County.

Rural areas have a higher percentage of Social Security recipients because young people tend to gravitate toward cities, Partridge says, adding that more people in rural areas receive disability payments.

"It relates to the kinds of industries people work in. Industries like logging, mining or agriculture tend to be more dangerous, and thus you're more likely to draw things such as disability."

The congressional super-committee is expected to make its recommendations for spending cuts later this month, which might include changes to the Social Security program.

More information is online at DailyYonder.com. Details by county and state are at msstate.edu.

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - ID