Foreword: Revitalizing Rural America
The number of rural Americans living in poverty has climbed sharply in the past twenty years. At the turn of the 21st century, about one in five rural counties had a poverty rate higher than twenty percent. Today, that number has climbed to about one in three rural counties. This increase in rural poverty reflects two interrelated trends: (1) a decline in traditional blue-collar jobs that rural America long relied on, such as manufacturing in the Midwest and mining in Appalachia, and (2) an exodus of young workers, especially those with higher levels of education, from rural areas, thus depriving their communities of a new generation of business owners.