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Poverty in Rural Areas of Great Plains is Higher than in Urban Centers

May 15, 2012

BISMARCK, N.D. - Poverty rates in the Midwest and Great Plains, including North Dakota, are generally higher in rural counties than in the urban centers in the regions, according to a new report.

Report author Jon Bailey, director of research and analysis at the Center for Rural Affairs, says it all boils down to economics.

"There are generally fewer economic opportunities in small, rural communities of the region and the jobs that exist are generally low-wage work, so that makes for lower incomes and better chances of poverty levels."

Bailey says the answer to the problem is investing in programs that would help create more and better-paying jobs, although he admits that's a lot easier said than done.

"But we need to have better public policy that allows investment in those economic opportunities, working with government and businesses and communities all together to create these jobs that pay better for rural people."

One place where there is currently an option for helping with rural development, Bailey says, is in the 2012 national Farm Bill, now before Congress.

"Unfortunately right now, early versions of the Farm Bill literally have no resources, no funding for rural development initiatives. We need to change that as the Farm Bill goes through Congress, in ways that allow rural areas and rural communities to help create these jobs and economic opportunities."

The analysis by the Center for Rural Affairs looked at 10 states in the central U.S., including North Dakota, and found that more than 13 percent of the rural population was living in poverty in 2010. That includes nearly 150,000 children.

More information is at

John Michaelson, Public News Service - ND