Rural America, mostly white, is becoming more diverse | Food and Environment Reporting Network

Source: FERN News
September 30, 2021
Chuck Abbott

“Three-quarters of rural Americans are white, a larger proportion than the roughly six in 10 for the nation overall, but the rural population is becoming more diverse, said a pair of analyses of Census data. The rural America of the future will be increasingly diverse and not as politically conservative as many assume, said the Brookings Institution. “Contrary to the dominant narratives that use ‘rural’ as a synonym for ‘white,’ 24 percent of rural Americans were people of color in 2020,” said Brookings. “While rural America is still less diverse than the nation as a whole (42.2 percent people of color), it is diversifying as well: The median rural county saw its population of color increase by 3.5 percentage points between 2010 and 2020.” The rural population was relatively static from 2010 to 2020, increasing by just 164,000, or 0.3 percent. But the rural Hispanic population surged by nearly 1 million people, or 20 percent, in the past decade. Meanwhile, the number of whites declined by almost 5 percent and the rural Black population fell by 6 percent…There are highly regionalized variations in the concentration of Blacks, Latino Americans, and Native Americans, said Brookings. “Rural counties in the South and West are particularly racially and ethnically diverse — with a substantial number of rural areas in these regions majority or near-majority people of color.”…“The regional variation also has political ramifications,” said Brookings. Former president Trump won only three majority-Black rural counties and did not fare well with rural voters working in the hospitality and leisure sector, particularly in the West. “Rural counties with recreation-focused economies were also more likely to gain population over the last decade, meaning the future of rural America is not only increasingly diverse but not as conservative as many assume,” wrote Brookings researchers D.W. Rowlands and Hanna Love.”

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