"Rural America Is the New 'Inner City'"

This great piece on rural America by Janet Adamy and Paul Overberg at the Wall Street Journal reflects more broadly the challenges that the Delta faces, in particular:

Lack of public transportation and childcare make it hard to hold down jobs.  "Although federal and state antipoverty programs were not limited to urban areas, they often failed to address the realities of the rural poor. The 1996 welfare overhaul put more city dwellers back to work, for example, but didn’t take into account the lack of public transportation and child care that made it difficult for people in small towns to hold down jobs[.]" 

Young people with talent leave rural areas. "In 1980, the median age of people in small towns and big cities almost matched. Today, the median age in small towns is about 41 years—five years above the median in big cities."

...And employers go where the young talent is. "In St. Louis, which has more than 30 nearby four-year schools, the percentage of residents with college degrees tripled between 1980 and 2015—creating a talent pool that has lured health care, finance and bioscience employers. Instead of people moving where the jobs are, 'jobs follow people,' said Greg Laposa, a local chamber of commerce vice president."

Hospitals shut down in rural areas, due to shortage of patients with employer-sponsored insurance. At least 79 rural hospitals have closed since 2010.

"Poverty, college attainment, teenage births, divorce, death rates from heart disease and cancer, reliance on federal disability insurance and male labor-force participation, rural counties now rank the worst among the four major U.S. population groupings (the others are big cities, suburbs and medium or small metro areas). In fact, the total rural population—accounting for births, deaths and migration—has declined for five straight years."