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The Urban and Rural Divide

Urban communities receive more aid despite rural areas' higher poverty rate

Ask Americans what parts of the country are the most poverty-stricken and they will probably talk about cities like Baltimore, Cleveland and St. Louis. They are not likely to mention rural areas in states like Mississippi, New Mexico and Arkansas.

Yet, the rate of poverty is significantly higher in rural America than it is in urban America. According to the most recent data from the federal government, in 2018 the poverty rate in metropolitan areas was 12.6 percent, while the poverty rate in non-metropolitan areas was 16.1 percent, more than 25 percent higher!

And poverty is just one of the areas where there is a divide between urban and rural. Rural areas have fewer cultural institutions, fewer colleges and universities, fewer nonprofit organizations, fewer social services, fewer jobs—the list goes on.

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