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Great Plains last in income, illustrates pervasive rural poverty

(Friday, June 20, 2003 -- CropChoice news) --Center for Rural Affairs newsletter via The Agribusiness Examiner: Based on 2001 data (the latest data available), the new figures again show how pervasive rural poverty is in the United States. Again, only one county among the lowest income 50 counties is a metropolitan county, and many of the lowest income 50 counties are very rural, agriculturally-based counties.

For the sixth year in a row (1996 to 2001 data), the rural Great Plains can lay claim to being the lowest income region in the nation. For the sixth year in a row Nebraska is home to some of the lowest income counties in the nation.

According to 2001 data, rural Nebraska has the three lowest income counties in the nation and over half of the ten lowest income counties in the nation.

It should be a topic of great debate, the potential ramifications to a society where income and wealth is so unevenly distributed, where the hard and necessary labors of some in rural communities are so undervalued by many elsewhere. The fact that some of our rural neighbors earn nearly 1,500 percent less for their labors than those in the highest income areas of the nation should be of grave concern.

The Nationís Lowest Income Counties

County Rank* Per Capita Income ($)

Loup, Nebraska 1 6,235
Blaine, Nebrsaka 2 8,372
Arthur, Nebaska 3 8,852
Ziebach, South Dakota 5 9,610
Grant, Nebraska 7 10,164
McPherson, Nebraska 8 10,407
Sioux, Nebraska 9 10,944
Hooker, Nebraska 12 11,714
Todd, South Dakota 15 12,347
Shannon, South Sakota 27 13,312
Buffalo, South Dakota 39 13,963

* Rank is among the 3,110 counties in the nation, with one being the county with the lowest per capita income.

Source: United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis.