Rural America in the age of COVID: Myths, Realities, and a Way Forward in 2020
Rural America has come to the nation’s attention. But much discussion in the media and coffee shops, at conferences and dinner tables, relies on incorrect or no data, idyllic or dystopic tropes and images, and opinion uninformed by rural experience. These myths have become a major obstacle to crafting a robust agenda for rural America and garnering support for policy change. The full picture of rural America is quite different:
- Approximately 60 million people or 1/5 of the American population lives in rural areas;
- 2/3 of counties as well as the vast majority of localities and tribal nations in the U.S. are rural;
- Agriculture employs less than 4 percent of the rural workforce;
- Rural leaders are generating productive economic and social innovations just as in urban America;
- Immigrants are helping revive rural economies and culture;
- Impact investing is on the rise;
- The voting map is red and blue and purple.
Rural economies were the hardest hit by the 2008 recession and the slowest to recover and, in many places, the compounding forces of race, poverty, and geographic isolation hit hard—even before the pandemic put health, economic, and racial disparities in America on full display. When the nation turns to the work of rebuilding, crafting a robust policy agenda that aligns with modern rural realities will require overcoming stereotypes, understanding the interdependency of rural and urban areas in creating resilient regions, and a recognition of the diversity of rural America.
Join us for a frank and revealing exchange about the real rural America and the implications this has on policy with panelists: Katharine Ferguson, Associate Director of the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group and Rob Riley, President of the Northern Forest Center. Bring all those questions about rural America you have always wanted to ask. NYU Wagner Clinical Professor John Gershman will moderate.