Since the 1960s, census data has shown higher rates of poverty in non-metro regions of the country.
Twenty Nebraska counties had a child poverty rate higher than the national average in 2020. All 20 counties have populations under 40,000, according to U.S. Census data collected by The University of Omaha’s Center for Public Affairs research.
An emphasis on work ethic and stigma around aid in small towns can add a barrier for those experiencing poverty in rural communities, said Jennifer Sherman, a Washington State University sociology professor.
Another difficulty: The loss of high-paying jobs. People with the most resources are often encouraged to leave smaller towns, Sherman said.