Rural demographics in every state

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July 20, 2020
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Rural demographics in every state

Amid the shutdowns and hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic, country life started to take on a new appeal for some. Many city dwellers, cooped up in pricey shoebox apartments with nowhere to go for months, have been daydreaming about moving to an area with a lower cost of living, spacious homes, and lots of beautiful nature to explore. Some—mainly the wealthy—have already fled the glass-and-concrete jungles of the country's big cities for more bucolic locales, either temporarily or permanently.

So what can big city residents expect from the rural communities they're thinking of calling home? For one, rural counties tend to be significantly less racially diverse than their urban counterparts (although that has been changing slightly over the last 20 years), according to the Pew Research Center. Less-populated areas of the country also have a higher percentage of people over the age of 64 years old than major cities. And people who are used to seeing big cities get more crowded year after year are likely to experience the exact opposite in rural towns, many of which have experienced stagnating or declining populations in recent decades.

While big trends tell one story, no two states are the same when it comes to the demographics of their rural communities. To learn more about the rural population in every state, Stacker used the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP)'s list of rural counties and census tracts within non-rural counties, which comprise rural areas, along with demographic data from the U.S. Census American Community Survey 2018 five-year estimates. It's important to note that when national definitions of rural areas are used, the populations of some small states (such as Rhode Island), which are relatively rural compared to other states, may be misrepresented. Finally, Stacker also looked at recent news reports from various local and regional newspapers, public radio stations, and national publications to learn more about the most significant issues affecting rural communities in each state.

Whether you're a die-hard urbanite who's curious about country living or someone who lives in a remote town and want to know more about your community, continue reading to learn more about the rural demographics of all 50 states.

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Alabama

- Total rural population: 1.4 million (28.8% of state, #21 state with the largest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 307,887 (22.0% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 256,884 (18.4% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 48.9% men, 51.1% women
- Race demographics: 74.1% White, 21.4% Black or African American, 0.8% Native American or Alaska Native, 0.6% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 4.7% Hispanic/Latino, 95.3% Non-Hispanic/Latino

Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives Mac McCutcheon recently formed a committee to enhance the efficiency and resources of volunteer fire departments, which rural areas of the state heavily rely on to address emergencies, according to Amy Passaretti of The Outlook. The people who run the fire departments in rural counties primarily consist of young folks and retired adults.

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Alaska

- Total rural population: 644,163 (87.2% of state, #1 state with the largest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 160,870 (25.0% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 70,058 (10.9% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 52.1% men, 47.9% women
- Race demographics: 65.5% White, 3.1% Black or African American, 13.2% Native American or Alaska Native, 6.8% Asian, 1.3% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 6.8% Hispanic/Latino, 93.2% Non-Hispanic/Latino

The Alaska Aviation Advisory Board is trying to figure out how to bring air service to remote communities in the state after its largest rural air carrier, RavnAir Group, went bankrupt in 2020, according to Nathaniel Herz of Alaska Public Media. It had previously served rural hub communities, including St. Mary's, Kenai, Homer, and the island of St. Paul.

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Arizona

- Total rural population: 805,774 (11.6% of state, #10 state with the smallest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 176,710 (21.9% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 167,241 (20.8% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 52.2% men, 47.8% women
- Race demographics: 69.8% White, 1.5% Black or African American, 21.6% Native American or Alaska Native, 0.7% Asian, 0.2% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 24.8% Hispanic/Latino, 75.2% Non-Hispanic/Latino

Cities in Central Arizona have been rapidly growing while simultaneously suffering a long-term drought. As a result, cities are eyeing the state's rural communities as a potential source for additional water supply.

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Arkansas

- Total rural population: 1.2 million (40.8% of state, #11 state with the largest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 274,988 (22.5% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 236,436 (19.4% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 49.3% men, 50.7% women
- Race demographics: 80.8% White, 13.9% Black or African American, 0.6% Native American or Alaska Native, 0.6% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 5.5% Hispanic/Latino, 94.5% Non-Hispanic/Latino

The digital divide in rural areas of Arkansas may soon be narrowing—an important step in ensuring people have the internet access they need to work and learn from home. In 2020, AT&T announced plans to extend high-speed internet service to an additional 41,000 homes and businesses in rural parts of the state, according to Kyle Massey of Arkansas Business.

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California

- Total rural population: 2.4 million (6.0% of state, #6 state with the smallest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 543,986 (23.0% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 412,125 (17.4% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 51.4% men, 48.6% women
- Race demographics: 79.8% White, 2.5% Black or African American, 2.0% Native American or Alaska Native, 2.3% Asian, 0.2% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 34.5% Hispanic/Latino, 65.5% Non-Hispanic/Latino

While California's largest cities were hit hard by the coronavirus, some of its rural counties remained relatively unscathed throughout the pandemic. Modoc County is one area where numbers for infection and deaths are small, compared to the rest of the state.

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Colorado

- Total rural population: 802,444 (14.5% of state, #14 state with the smallest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 167,607 (20.9% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 137,993 (17.2% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 52.2% men, 47.8% women
- Race demographics: 90.8% White, 1.3% Black or African American, 1.7% Native American or Alaska Native, 0.7% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 20.6% Hispanic/Latino, 79.4% Non-Hispanic/Latino

Funds from the federal government provided a lifeline to hospitals and primary care centers in rural Colorado during the pandemic, according to Patty Nieberg of the Associated Press/Report for America. More than a dozen such facilities applied for loans from the federal government to help make payroll and avoid layoffs amid falling revenue and higher costs.

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Connecticut

- Total rural population: 220,249 (6.1% of state, #7 state with the smallest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 41,729 (18.9% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 41,391 (18.8% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 49.1% men, 50.9% women
- Race demographics: 90.0% White, 2.5% Black or African American, 0.4% Native American or Alaska Native, 2.1% Asian, 0.0% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 9.8% Hispanic/Latino, 90.2% Non-Hispanic/Latino

People who live in rural areas of Connecticut face higher rates of preventable deaths than their urban counterparts, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. A lack of reliable public transportation to health care facilities from rural towns may be partially to blame for the poor health outcomes, according to Jodie Mozdzer Gil of the Hartford Courant.

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Delaware

- Total rural population: 170,432 (17.9% of state, #18 state with the smallest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 29,938 (17.6% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 48,256 (28.3% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 48.5% men, 51.5% women
- Race demographics: 84.2% White, 10.0% Black or African American, 0.4% Native American or Alaska Native, 1.2% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 10.1% Hispanic/Latino, 89.9% Non-Hispanic/Latino

Rural parts of Delaware have seen many mom-and-pop grocers shut down after big-box retailers moved in. However, the few remaining small grocery stores in some of the state's less-populated areas saw their business boom during the pandemic, according to Delaware Public Media. Rural shoppers turned to these stores after chain retailers had their shelves emptied.

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Florida

- Total rural population: 924,392 (4.5% of state, #5 state with the smallest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 183,999 (19.9% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 184,081 (19.9% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 53.8% men, 46.2% women
- Race demographics: 79.2% White, 15.7% Black or African American, 0.5% Native American or Alaska Native, 0.7% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 15.5% Hispanic/Latino, 84.5% Non-Hispanic/Latino

Food banks in rural Florida struggled to keep up with demand in 2020, according to Robbie Gaffney of WFSU. One such pantry, The Children's Table, which serves rural communities in North Central Florida, saw demand rise by more than 50% during the coronavirus outbreak.

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Georgia

- Total rural population: 2.0 million (19.4% of state, #19 state with the smallest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 456,319 (22.8% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 334,969 (16.7% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 49.6% men, 50.4% women
- Race demographics: 69.2% White, 25.3% Black or African American, 0.3% Native American or Alaska Native, 0.9% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 6.5% Hispanic/Latino, 93.5% Non-Hispanic/Latino

The pandemic showcased the generational racial inequities present throughout rural Georgia, according to Grace Walker of WABE. Hall County's Latino community and workers at its poultry plants were acutely impacted by COVID-19, while Black communities faced the highest rates of infection in central and southern Georgia.

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Hawaii

- Total rural population: 353,490 (24.9% of state, #25 state with the smallest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 77,760 (22.0% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 65,456 (18.5% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 49.9% men, 50.1% women
- Race demographics: 35.6% White, 0.7% Black or African American, 0.4% Native American or Alaska Native, 24.3% Asian, 11.8% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 11.9% Hispanic/Latino, 88.1% Non-Hispanic/Latino

Hawaii's Senate passed a bill in 2020 to help bolster environmental justice in rural areas that have landfills, according to Blaze Lovell of the Honolulu Civil Beat. Senate Bill 2386 was created to prevent landfills "from expanding into conservation zones" or within a half-mile of homes, schools, and hospitals.

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Idaho

- Total rural population: 620,436 (36.8% of state, #18 state with the largest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 158,861 (25.6% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 103,794 (16.7% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 50.6% men, 49.4% women
- Race demographics: 91.5% White, 0.4% Black or African American, 2.0% Native American or Alaska Native, 1.0% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 13.9% Hispanic/Latino, 86.1% Non-Hispanic/Latino

Some rural parts of Idaho were at a disadvantage when internet infrastructure was insufficient to handle new demands during the pandemic. The Idaho Department of Commerce awarded almost $50 million to boost broadband capabilities to help those in underserved areas access online learning and telehealth, and to successfully work from home.

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Illinois

- Total rural population: 1.7 million (13.0% of state, #11 state with the smallest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 356,379 (21.3% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 321,508 (19.3% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 50.2% men, 49.8% women
- Race demographics: 92.8% White, 3.7% Black or African American, 0.2% Native American or Alaska Native, 0.7% Asian, 0.0% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 4.4% Hispanic/Latino, 95.6% Non-Hispanic/Latino

Residents of rural areas in Illinois face intense stigmas around mental health treatment, which drive them to travel far away from their local area to get the care they need, according to Courtney Cuthbertson, assistant professor of human development and family studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. To help address this issue, the University of Illinois Extension and Michigan State University Extension teamed up to create an online course titled "Rural Resilience: Farm Stress Training" that people can take in the privacy of their own homes.

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Indiana

- Total rural population: 1.7 million (25.8% of state, #25 state with the largest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 401,025 (23.4% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 295,523 (17.2% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 49.8% men, 50.2% women
- Race demographics: 94.8% White, 1.5% Black or African American, 0.2% Native American or Alaska Native, 0.6% Asian, 0.0% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 4.2% Hispanic/Latino, 95.8% Non-Hispanic/Latino

A pilot program that provides house calls in rural Indiana has been shown to be an effective way to improve health in underserved areas, according to News Medical. The program resulted in a 77% drop in emergency department use and a 50% reduction in hospital readmissions among the nearly 1,000 homebound older adults with chronic illnesses who participated in the study.

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Iowa

- Total rural population: 1.4 million (44.1% of state, #10 state with the largest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 316,522 (22.9% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 269,876 (19.5% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 49.8% men, 50.2% women
- Race demographics: 94.2% White, 1.4% Black or African American, 0.4% Native American or Alaska Native, 1.1% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 5.6% Hispanic/Latino, 94.4% Non-Hispanic/Latino

The Empower Rural Iowa initiative has been working on two key issues that affect rural communities in the state. It has helped get $5 million approved by the state Legislature for broadband projects to increase high-speed internet access in underserved areas. It has also created a task force to focus on emergency medical services in remote areas of the state, according to James Q. Lynch of the Gazette Des Moines Bureau.

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Kansas

- Total rural population: 1.1 million (37.7% of state, #15 state with the largest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 266,761 (24.3% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 188,270 (17.2% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 50.6% men, 49.4% women
- Race demographics: 89.3% White, 3.1% Black or African American, 0.9% Native American or Alaska Native, 1.1% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 12.3% Hispanic/Latino, 87.7% Non-Hispanic/Latino

To address the aging workforce problem in parts of rural Kansas, the state has created a new project to help attract young people to small towns. Kansas Power Up and Go is seeking input from people between the ages of 21 and 39 years old in rural areas about what services and features are most important in a potential place to live. It's also working on new marketing strategies and policies to draw young people to rural areas, according to Alec Gartner of KSNT.

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Kentucky

- Total rural population: 2.1 million (47.2% of state, #9 state with the largest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 472,445 (22.5% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 355,363 (16.9% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 49.3% men, 50.7% women
- Race demographics: 92.8% White, 4.0% Black or African American, 0.2% Native American or Alaska Native, 0.5% Asian, 0.0% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 2.4% Hispanic/Latino, 97.6% Non-Hispanic/Latino

Residents of rural Eastern Kentucky will have an easier time getting to central parts of the state within the next decade as a result of a $55.15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, according to Brandon Roberts of Spectrum News 1. The grant will cover a construction project to expand a stretch of the Mountain Parkway from two lanes to four lanes within the next six to 10 years.

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Louisiana

- Total rural population: 955,562 (20.5% of state, #21 state with the smallest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 229,754 (24.0% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 152,193 (15.9% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 50.1% men, 49.9% women
- Race demographics: 64.3% White, 31.0% Black or African American, 0.8% Native American or Alaska Native, 0.7% Asian, 0.0% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 3.4% Hispanic/Latino, 96.6% Non-Hispanic/Latino

Limited telecommunications services have left people in some rural parts of Louisiana without any high-speed internet access, according to the Louisiana Budget Project. Some households in these areas may only have the choice of satellite or dial-up internet connections.

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Maine

- Total rural population: 699,555 (52.5% of state, #8 state with the largest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 129,735 (18.5% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 152,887 (21.9% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 49.0% men, 51.0% women
- Race demographics: 95.8% White, 0.7% Black or African American, 0.8% Native American or Alaska Native, 0.8% Asian, 0.0% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 1.5% Hispanic/Latino, 98.5% Non-Hispanic/Latino

A lack of internet access left tens of thousands of people who live in rural parts of Maine without the reliable connectivity they need to work from home, complete online schoolwork, or get a telemedicine appointment with their doctor during the pandemic, according to Steve Collins of the Sun Journal. Experts say it will cost at least $600 million to provide high-speed internet access throughout the state.

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Maryland

- Total rural population: 223,769 (3.7% of state, #4 state with the smallest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 43,743 (19.5% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 50,894 (22.7% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 48.4% men, 51.6% women
- Race demographics: 81.6% White, 13.4% Black or African American, 0.2% Native American or Alaska Native, 1.0% Asian, 0.0% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 4.7% Hispanic/Latino, 95.3% Non-Hispanic/Latino

The Maryland Department of Health launching a new mental health initiative in 2020, to help mitigate the effects of social isolation and boost mental wellness, according to Abigail Constantino of WTOP. The text message-based program is designed to especially be useful to people in rural parts of Maryland, who may have limited access to other mental health services.

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Massachusetts

- Total rural population: 172,097 (2.5% of state, #3 state with the smallest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 29,961 (17.4% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 37,699 (21.9% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 48.5% men, 51.5% women
- Race demographics: 91.5% White, 2.4% Black or African American, 0.4% Native American or Alaska Native, 1.5% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 4.1% Hispanic/Latino, 95.9% Non-Hispanic/Latino

A lack of public transportation made it difficult for residents of rural Massachusetts to access coronavirus testing. In 2020, western Massachusetts legislators began calling for more equitable testing opportunities after the rural region was excluded from an initiative to create free testing sites, according to Elizabeth Román of MassLive.

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Michigan

- Total rural population: 2.0 million (20.4% of state, #20 state with the smallest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 416,065 (20.5% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 403,650 (19.9% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 50.4% men, 49.6% women
- Race demographics: 92.9% White, 2.1% Black or African American, 1.3% Native American or Alaska Native, 0.6% Asian, 0.0% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 3.8% Hispanic/Latino, 96.2% Non-Hispanic/Latino

Rural parts of Michigan saw spikes of coronavirus cases among farmworkers and their families in July 2020, according to Gus Burns of MLive. Many of the farms' temporary workers live in crowded apartments and travel between farms for different jobs, making it harder to prevent infections. The next month, the state mandated testing of all workers at farms, migrant camps, and meat plants.

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Minnesota

- Total rural population: 1.5 million (27.0% of state, #23 state with the largest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 336,398 (22.5% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 294,792 (19.8% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 50.3% men, 49.7% women
- Race demographics: 91.8% White, 1.4% Black or African American, 2.3% Native American or Alaska Native, 1.1% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 4.7% Hispanic/Latino, 95.3% Non-Hispanic/Latino

Rural residents of Minnesota have a harder time accessing childcare facilities than their urban counterparts, according to research from the University of Minnesota. Childcare centers are closing more quickly than new ones can open, often due to an inability to profit from the business, according to Kelly Busche of the Duluth News Tribune.

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Mississippi

- Total rural population: 1.7 million (55.8% of state, #6 state with the largest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 399,387 (23.9% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 265,154 (15.9% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 48.8% men, 51.2% women
- Race demographics: 57.0% White, 39.9% Black or African American, 0.6% Native American or Alaska Native, 0.5% Asian, 0.0% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 2.6% Hispanic/Latino, 97.4% Non-Hispanic/Latino

Thousands of rural Mississippians have no access to broadband internet service. To help reduce the digital divide, the state Legislature voted in July 2020 to allocate $275 million to expand broadband and online learning for K-12 students in rural areas, according to The Daily Leader.

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Missouri

- Total rural population: 1.8 million (28.9% of state, #20 state with the largest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 394,851 (22.5% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 327,531 (18.6% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 50.2% men, 49.8% women
- Race demographics: 92.4% White, 3.3% Black or African American, 0.6% Native American or Alaska Native, 0.7% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 3.5% Hispanic/Latino, 96.5% Non-Hispanic/Latino

Outbreaks of the coronavirus in meatpacking plants in rural Missouri began driving an increase in overall cases of COVID-19 in the state in June 2020, according to Jonathan Ahl of St. Louis Public Radio. Around 85% of all cases in Adair and Sullivan Counties stemmed from two meatpacking plants. Some industry leaders pushed to get workers vaccinated when vaccination rollouts started in 2021.

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Montana

- Total rural population: 703,413 (67.5% of state, #4 state with the largest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 153,396 (21.8% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 130,866 (18.6% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 50.6% men, 49.4% women
- Race demographics: 88.1% White, 0.3% Black or African American, 7.8% Native American or Alaska Native, 0.6% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 3.3% Hispanic/Latino, 96.7% Non-Hispanic/Latino

The response to the 2020 census lagged in rural areas of Montana, creating a risk that the state may not gain back an additional seat in the House of Representatives. Then the pandemic delayed census results by six months, pushing the delivery date from March 2021 to September 2021, and creating problems with redistricting in Montana and elsewhere.

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Nebraska

- Total rural population: 715,162 (37.5% of state, #16 state with the largest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 170,446 (23.8% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 135,424 (18.9% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 50.0% men, 50.0% women
- Race demographics: 93.7% White, 1.0% Black or African American, 1.5% Native American or Alaska Native, 0.6% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 9.9% Hispanic/Latino, 90.1% Non-Hispanic/Latino

Nebraska is working to revitalize rural towns through its Rural Workforce Housing Fund. The program helped to build more than 570 residences and grow the local economies in target areas, according to Danielle Shenk of NTV.

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Nevada

- Total rural population: 325,115 (11.1% of state, #9 state with the smallest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 67,532 (20.8% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 70,098 (21.6% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 51.8% men, 48.2% women
- Race demographics: 85.2% White, 1.8% Black or African American, 4.0% Native American or Alaska Native, 1.5% Asian, 0.3% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 17.3% Hispanic/Latino, 82.7% Non-Hispanic/Latino

Amtrak announced in June 2020 that it would trim service on many long-distance routes from daily to thrice-weekly, leaving rural Nevadans with less access to transportation, according to Gary Martin of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Many rural Nevadans had relied on the train service to get to cities for medical services, so the cutback may also impact the health of the communities.

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New Hampshire

- Total rural population: 532,709 (39.6% of state, #14 state with the largest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 97,856 (18.4% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 104,362 (19.6% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 49.5% men, 50.5% women
- Race demographics: 94.9% White, 1.1% Black or African American, 0.3% Native American or Alaska Native, 1.7% Asian, 0.0% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 1.9% Hispanic/Latino, 98.1% Non-Hispanic/Latino

Quiet towns in rural New Hampshire started seeing an uptick in new residents from other states during the pandemic, according to The Granite State News Collaborative. The influx of new residents may help mitigate the state's standstill immigration, falling birth rates, and rising death rates.

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Andrew F. Kazmierski // Shutterstock

New Jersey

- Total rural population: 106,949 (1.2% of state, #2 state with the smallest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 24,970 (23.3% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 13,032 (12.2% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 56.4% men, 43.6% women
- Race demographics: 65.1% White, 20.4% Black or African American, 0.8% Native American or Alaska Native, 1.4% Asian, 0.0% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 23.1% Hispanic/Latino, 76.9% Non-Hispanic/Latino

The New Jersey Transit system is vital to the residents of rural parts of the state. In June 2020, it received a $13.3 million U.S. Department of Transportation grant that is specifically aimed at bolstering the state's rural transit providers, according to ROI NJ.

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New Mexico

- Total rural population: 772,171 (36.9% of state, #17 state with the largest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 192,688 (25.0% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 129,902 (16.8% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 50.1% men, 49.9% women
- Race demographics: 69.2% White, 1.8% Black or African American, 17.0% Native American or Alaska Native, 0.8% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 44.2% Hispanic/Latino, 55.8% Non-Hispanic/Latino

Outdoor recreation has been responsible for some of the biggest job growth in rural communities in New Mexico in recent years, according to U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich. They called for an increase in recreation opportunities and greater conservation of public lands and waters in rural areas to help jumpstart the economy.

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New York

- Total rural population: 1.9 million (9.6% of state, #8 state with the smallest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 373,566 (19.9% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 346,979 (18.5% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 50.5% men, 49.5% women
- Race demographics: 91.3% White, 3.3% Black or African American, 0.7% Native American or Alaska Native, 1.1% Asian, 0.0% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 4.8% Hispanic/Latino, 95.2% Non-Hispanic/Latino

A lack of reliable Wi-Fi in parts of rural New York took its toll on local teachers—and the education system at large—during the pandemic. A shortage of hot spots (and a lack of funds to keep them in service) in some school districts forced teachers to work out of their cars outside of public libraries and other Wi-Fi-equipped spaces, according to Sidnee King and Emine Yücel of Medill Reports. President Biden's infrastructure plan allocated $100 billion to boost broadband access to communities across the country.

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North Carolina

- Total rural population: 2.7 million (26.5% of state, #24 state with the largest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 576,319 (21.4% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 516,330 (19.2% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 49.0% men, 51.0% women
- Race demographics: 70.5% White, 20.8% Black or African American, 3.2% Native American or Alaska Native, 0.7% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 8.1% Hispanic/Latino, 91.9% Non-Hispanic/Latino

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper expanded an initiative to help 80 rural counties in the state fight COVID-19 and bolster their local economies. The project, known as Hometown Strong, focuses on economic revitalization, improving access to health care, and support for remote education, according to Megan Allman of WFMY News 2 Digital.

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North Dakota

- Total rural population: 404,997 (53.8% of state, #7 state with the largest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 97,111 (24.0% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 66,487 (16.4% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 51.8% men, 48.2% women
- Race demographics: 86.1% White, 1.7% Black or African American, 7.8% Native American or Alaska Native, 0.7% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 4.1% Hispanic/Latino, 95.9% Non-Hispanic/Latino

Around 15% of grocery stores in small, rural towns in North Dakota have closed since 2013, according to the North Dakota State Senate's Interim Commerce Committee. Those that remain have seen a major uptick in business during the pandemic, though, giving new hope to rural grocers in the state, according to the Minot Daily News.

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Ohio

- Total rural population: 2.8 million (23.8% of state, #23 state with the smallest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 619,944 (22.3% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 483,251 (17.4% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 49.8% men, 50.2% women
- Race demographics: 94.0% White, 2.3% Black or African American, 0.2% Native American or Alaska Native, 0.7% Asian, 0.0% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 2.7% Hispanic/Latino, 97.3% Non-Hispanic/Latino

Tourism created tension in rural Ohio counties during the pandemic, according to Sheridan Hendrix of The Columbus Dispatch. While tourists headed to these remote areas to hunker down and stretch their legs, residents were concerned that the visitors would put them at increased risk of coronavirus infections.

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Oklahoma

- Total rural population: 1.6 million (40.0% of state, #13 state with the largest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 373,671 (23.8% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 271,280 (17.3% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 49.9% men, 50.1% women
- Race demographics: 72.9% White, 3.6% Black or African American, 11.7% Native American or Alaska Native, 0.9% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 8.0% Hispanic/Latino, 92.0% Non-Hispanic/Latino

Parking lots of churches, high schools, and libraries became the go-to places for internet access for many residents of rural areas of Oklahoma during the pandemic, according to Jason Abbruzzese and Shamar Walters of NBC News. Rural residents, many of whom live below the poverty line, say home internet service is too expensive—if it's available at all. Oklahoma State University launched a hotspot lending program designed to expand access. 

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Oregon

- Total rural population: 997,052 (24.4% of state, #24 state with the smallest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 213,425 (21.4% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 210,325 (21.1% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 49.9% men, 50.1% women
- Race demographics: 88.9% White, 0.7% Black or African American, 2.1% Native American or Alaska Native, 1.0% Asian, 0.2% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 13.9% Hispanic/Latino, 86.1% Non-Hispanic/Latino

A group of rural Oregonians wants to move the state border so it can become part of Idaho, according to Emily Cureton of Oregon Public Broadcasting. The movement is part of an effort to maintain "rural values," according to Mike McCarter, spokesman of the group Move Oregon's Border For a Greater Idaho.

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Pennsylvania

- Total rural population: 1.9 million (15.0% of state, #17 state with the smallest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 375,971 (19.6% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 380,030 (19.8% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 50.3% men, 49.7% women
- Race demographics: 94.4% White, 2.8% Black or African American, 0.2% Native American or Alaska Native, 0.6% Asian, 0.0% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 2.6% Hispanic/Latino, 97.4% Non-Hispanic/Latino

Hospitals in rural parts of Pennsylvania have been struggling, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. They've faced a double whammy of declining revenues and severe doctor shortages, which may leave rural residents without access to quality health care. A program to send medical students to rural areas is designed to help.

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Rhode Island

- Total rural population: 827 (0.1% of state, #1 state with the smallest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 143 (17.3% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 221 (26.7% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 45.7% men, 54.3% women
- Race demographics: 94.1% White, 0.0% Black or African American, 0.0% Native American or Alaska Native, 2.4% Asian, 0.0% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 0.8% Hispanic/Latino, 99.2% Non-Hispanic/Latino

To help combat the opioid epidemic in rural parts of Rhode Island, the University of Rhode Island created an outreach campaign to train people in remote areas of the state on issues related to substance abuse, according to Linda Borg of the Providence Journal. The project included plans for health professionals to distribute information on naloxone and provide health counseling at farmers' markets, festivals, and other events.

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South Carolina

- Total rural population: 1.1 million (21.8% of state, #22 state with the smallest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 236,253 (21.8% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 205,462 (19.0% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 48.5% men, 51.5% women
- Race demographics: 58.1% White, 37.6% Black or African American, 0.4% Native American or Alaska Native, 0.6% Asian, 0.0% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 4.2% Hispanic/Latino, 95.8% Non-Hispanic/Latino

South Carolina created broadband maps to better assess how to help the thousands of households who lack the connectivity they need to work and learn from home, according to Michael Fuller of News19. Funds are being allocated, but challenges with finding labor and managing logistics mean that implementation could take more than two years. 

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South Dakota

- Total rural population: 505,211 (58.5% of state, #5 state with the largest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 122,362 (24.2% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 88,018 (17.4% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 50.6% men, 49.4% women
- Race demographics: 83.0% White, 0.8% Black or African American, 12.1% Native American or Alaska Native, 1.3% Asian, 0.0% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 3.3% Hispanic/Latino, 96.7% Non-Hispanic/Latino

Small, rural towns in South Dakota were already trying to to reverse population downturns and improve economic stability, but the pandemic further stymied efforts. Mom-and-pop businesses in those areas have seen revenues fall, amid a long-term shortage of affordable housing, a decline in farm incomes, and a departure of many young residents.

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Tennessee

- Total rural population: 1.8 million (27.4% of state, #22 state with the largest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 395,390 (21.7% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 344,627 (18.9% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 49.3% men, 50.7% women
- Race demographics: 89.5% White, 6.6% Black or African American, 0.3% Native American or Alaska Native, 0.5% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 3.9% Hispanic/Latino, 96.1% Non-Hispanic/Latino

After months where students with no internet connection packed parking lots to get Wi-Fi for their lessons, there are new options in the works for them and others who need internet for school, work, and telemedicine. The state allocated almost $15 million in broadband grants to help Tennesseans in underserved areas. 

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Texas

- Total rural population: 3.8 million (13.8% of state, #12 state with the smallest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 915,680 (23.8% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 671,870 (17.5% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 50.8% men, 49.2% women
- Race demographics: 84.0% White, 7.9% Black or African American, 0.6% Native American or Alaska Native, 0.8% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 32.4% Hispanic/Latino, 67.6% Non-Hispanic/Latino

Some Texas hospitals turned away COVID-19 patients transferred from rural areas at the height of the pandemic, amid a shortfall of beds, medicine, ventilators, and medical staff. Months later, the state was busy with vaccine rollouts: The VA brought one-shot vaccines to homebound vets throughout the state. 

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Utah

- Total rural population: 452,498 (14.9% of state, #16 state with the smallest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 137,153 (30.3% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 58,268 (12.9% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 50.9% men, 49.1% women
- Race demographics: 90.4% White, 0.5% Black or African American, 3.3% Native American or Alaska Native, 0.7% Asian, 0.2% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 9.7% Hispanic/Latino, 90.3% Non-Hispanic/Latino

Utah lawmakers are looking for ways to increase job opportunities in rural parts of the state by incentivizing employers to allow telecommuting, according to Ben Winslow of Fox13Now. But for this to be possible, the state will need to expand internet access across more-remote parts of the state.

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Vermont

- Total rural population: 445,198 (71.2% of state, #3 state with the largest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 84,914 (19.1% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 88,159 (19.8% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 49.3% men, 50.7% women
- Race demographics: 95.7% White, 0.9% Black or African American, 0.4% Native American or Alaska Native, 0.8% Asian, 0.0% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 1.7% Hispanic/Latino, 98.3% Non-Hispanic/Latino

Accessing health care can be a struggle for rural residents in Vermont. Around 11% of rural residents in the Green Mountain State say they did not get the health care they needed over the past few years, largely due to the expense of care or the long distance they'd need to travel to see a doctor, according to the 2019 Rural Life Survey.

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Virginia

- Total rural population: 1.2 million (14.8% of state, #15 state with the smallest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 247,558 (19.8% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 259,427 (20.8% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 49.5% men, 50.5% women
- Race demographics: 78.5% White, 17.4% Black or African American, 0.2% Native American or Alaska Native, 0.7% Asian, 0.0% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 3.5% Hispanic/Latino, 96.5% Non-Hispanic/Latino

Rates of incarceration at jails in rural Virginia have doubled over the last two decades, amid a decline in pre-trial incarceration in more-urban parts of the state, according to Michael Pope of WVTF. Jasmine Heiss of the Vera Institute, an organization that conducts research on incarceration, says that the closing of rural hospitals has eliminated an important social safety net and left people without essential treatment, which may be driving up the incarceration rates.

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Washington

- Total rural population: 1.0 million (13.9% of state, #13 state with the smallest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 222,584 (21.9% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 201,710 (19.9% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 50.4% men, 49.6% women
- Race demographics: 83.9% White, 1.0% Black or African American, 2.8% Native American or Alaska Native, 1.9% Asian, 0.2% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 18.9% Hispanic/Latino, 81.1% Non-Hispanic/Latino

Without access to the internet at home, many people in rural parts of Washington  faced extra challenges to complete work- and school-related tasks during the pandemic, according to Amy Edelen of The Spokesman-Review. Some students needed to make a 20-mile trip to access Wi-Fi for their homework. Long-time efforts to implement public broadband in the state could be boosted by the 2021 infrastructure plan.

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West Virginia

- Total rural population: 736,465 (40.3% of state, #12 state with the largest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 149,106 (20.2% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 150,094 (20.4% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 49.4% men, 50.6% women
- Race demographics: 95.5% White, 2.3% Black or African American, 0.2% Native American or Alaska Native, 0.4% Asian, 0.0% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 1.1% Hispanic/Latino, 98.9% Non-Hispanic/Latino

There are several challenges affecting rural communities in West Virginia, according to Sean O'Leary of the West Virginia Center on Budget & Policy. Less-populated parts of the state tend to have higher poverty rates, a declining population, and poor job growth rates.

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Wisconsin

- Total rural population: 1.8 million (30.9% of state, #19 state with the largest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 379,594 (21.3% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 342,110 (19.2% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 50.4% men, 49.6% women
- Race demographics: 94.0% White, 0.9% Black or African American, 1.5% Native American or Alaska Native, 0.9% Asian, 0.0% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 3.7% Hispanic/Latino, 96.3% Non-Hispanic/Latino

More than a quarter of the rural population in Wisconsin lacks high-speed internet access, according to data from the Federal Communications Commission. To address the problem, Gov. Tony Evers developed a task force focused on broadband access in the state, according to Danielle Kaeding of Wisconsin Public Radio.

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Wyoming

- Total rural population: 433,219 (74.5% of state, #2 state with the largest rural population)
- Children in rural areas (under 18): 102,370 (23.6% of state rural population)
- Seniors in rural areas (over 65): 66,250 (15.3% of state rural population)
- Gender demographics: 51.3% men, 48.7% women
- Race demographics: 91.7% White, 0.6% Black or African American, 2.9% Native American or Alaska Native, 0.7% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Ethnicity demographics: 8.7% Hispanic/Latino, 91.3% Non-Hispanic/Latino

Financial struggles at hospitals in rural Wyoming have been leaving residents with fewer options for health care services. Beyond those problems, the state senates's decision to deny the expansion of Medicaid further limited access.

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