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Population Declining in Rural Communities Due to Opioid Crisis

The USDA just released an eye-opening report called Rural America At A Glance, and there are serious challenges facing rural America – driven in no small part by the opioid crisis.

According to the report, while rural America shows signs of a strengthening economy, many rural areas face unique challenges that place them at a competitive disadvantage relative to more urban areas. Overall, the rural population is shrinking for the first time on record, due to several factors, including long-term outmigration of young adults, fewer births, and increased mortality among working-age adults caused by drug overdose.

The report highlights how rising rates of prescription medication abuse, especially of opioids, and the related rise in heroin-overdose deaths are contributing to this unprecedented rise in age-specific mortality rates after a century or more of steady declines. This trend, if it continues, will not only lower rural population but will increase what is known as the dependency ratio: the number of people likely to be not working (children and retirees) relative to the number of people likely to be wage earners (working-age adults).

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To access the full report of Rural America At A Glance, click here.

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