Population in rural counties across Arkansas continues to drop

Population in rural counties across Arkansas continues to drop
Despite the overall population of the state of Arkansas continuing to grow, the state's rural population continued to fall. (Source: KAIT)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KAIT) - Despite nearly half the Arkansas population living in rural counties, the rural population has dropped in the last decade.

As of 2019, 41% of the state’s population resides in rural counties, according to a report from content partner Talk Business & Politics.

However, the population in those rural counties dropped 3.3% between 2010-2019.

Wayne Miller, professor of Community, Professional, and Economic Development for the Division of Agriculture, and co-author of the 2021 Rural Profile of Arkansas, said the publication highlights the challenges and successes of rural Arkansas.

“While rural Arkansas is diverse, many rural areas are struggling to provide the infrastructure, skilled workforce, quality of life, and good-paying jobs needed to maintain and grow their local economies and provide households with enough income to support their families,” Miller said. “However, there are some rural counties that are doing well, and hopefully, we can all learn from their activities.”

The Rural Profile Dashboard monitors data from 2007-2020. Categories for each county in the dashboard include monitoring economy, education, health, infrastructure, government, population, and socioeconomic status.

While communities continue to feel the impact of COVID-19 economically, rural Arkansas communities were compounded by the effects, with many still struggling from the Great Recession of 2008.

From 2010-2018, Arkansas’s employment grew by 9% overall but breaking it down between urban and rural counties, urban counties grew economically by 13% while rural counties remained stagnant.

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