Big Changes in Rural/Exurban Poverty Rates

In rural America, few places are average. Here are the counties that had the largest increases and decreases in poverty rates from 2007 to 2011.

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Earlier this week we reported that 18.3 percent of rural residents fell below the federal poverty rate in 2011. That’s according to the latest figures supplied by the Census Bureau. 

Poverty rates have been rising. In 2007, the rural rate was 15.8 percent. Nationally, the poverty rate has gone from 12.9 percent in 2007 to 15.9% in 2011. The poverty rate has risen 2.9 points on average in the entire U.S. Among all rural residents, the average poverty rate increased 2.5 percentage points.

In exurban counties, the average poverty rate increased 2.3 points, from 12.2 percent to 14.5 percent. (Exurban counties are in metropolitan areas, but they are largely rural in character.)

In rural America, however, very few counties were average.

Below are the 50 rural or exuban counties where the poverty rate declined the most between 2007 and 2011. On the next page, you can click through to see the 50 counties that had the largest increases in their poverty rates.

You can see that most of the counties that had large drops in their poverty rates had high poverty rates to begin with. Texas had the most counties (15) on the list; Kentucky came in second, with 7 counties.

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Here are the 50 counties with the largest percentage point increases in poverty rates. This list is dominated by counties in the Southeast. Nineteen of the counties are found in Georgia. Another six are in Florida, with more in North Carolina and Alabama.

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