New Census data show differences between urban and rural populations. People who live in rural areas are more likely to own their own homes, live in their state of birth and have served in the military than their urban counterparts, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.
“Rural areas cover 97 percent of the nation’s land area but contain 19.3 percent of the population (about 60 million people),” Census Bureau Director John H. Thompson said. “By combining five years of survey responses, the American Community Survey provides unequaled insight into the state of every community, whether large or small, urban or rural.”
There were about 47 million adults 18 years and older living in rural areas. Most adults in both rural and urban areas owned their own homes but the percentage was higher in rural areas (81.1 percent compared with 59.8 percent). Adults in rural areas were also more likely to live in single-family homes (78.3 percent compared with 64.6 percent) and live in their state of birth (65.4 percent compared with 48.3 percent). Veterans comprised 10.4 percent of the population of adults in rural areas compared with 7.8 percent of adults in urban areas.
Advertisers trying to reach rural populations should know 15% of Rural Residents plan to attend home/garden shows next year, according to the most current AudienceSCAN research.
Adults in rural areas had a median age of 51, making them older compared with adults in urban areas with a median age of 45. They had lower rates of poverty (11.7 percent compared with 14.0 percent) but were less likely to have obtained a bachelor’s degree or higher (19.5 percent compared with 29.0). Rural communities had fewer adults born in other countries compared with those in urban areas (4.0 percent compared with 19.0 percent).
Additional findings showed:
- About 13.4 million children under the age of 18 lived in the rural areas of the nation.
- Children in rural areas had lower rates of poverty (18.9 percent compared with 22.3 percent) but more of them were uninsured (7.3 percent compared with 6.3 percent). A higher percentage of own children in rural areas lived in married-couple households (76.3 percent compared with 67.4 percent). ("Own children" includes never-married biological, step and adopted children of the couple.)
- Compared with households in urban areas, rural households had lower median household income ($52,386 compared with $54,296), lower median home values ($151,300 compared with $190,900), and lower monthly housing costs for households paying a mortgage ($1,271 compared with $1,561). A higher percentage owned their housing units “free and clear,” with no mortgage or loan (44.0 percent compared with 32.3 percent).
- States with the highest median household incomes in rural areas were Connecticut ($93,382) and New Jersey ($92,972) (not statistically different from each other). The state with the lowest rural median household income was Mississippi ($40,200). Among rural areas, poverty rates varied from a low in Connecticut (4.6 percent) to a high in New Mexico (21.9 percent).
With health in mind, it's important to note that 20.3% of Rural Residents visited an urgent care center in the past year, according to AudienceSCAN data.
Differences in the Rural Population Based on Level of Rurality
Researchers also compared rural residents in 704 completely rural counties—those whose entire populations lived in rural areas—with their rural counterparts in counties that were mostly rural, and those that were mostly urban.
Rural Residents rely on mailers and newspapers for consumer information. The most recent AudienceSCAN survey found 31.2% of Rural Residents took action after receiving ads/coupons in their mailboxes in the past month. And 41.2% took action based on newspaper advertising they read in the past year.
Between 2011 and 2015, about 9.0 percent of the rural population in the United States (5.3 million) lived in these completely rural counties, compared with about 41.0 percent (24.6 million) in the 1,185 mostly rural counties and about 50.0 percent (30.1 million) in the 1,253 mostly urban counties.
AudienceSCAN also found 13.4% of Rural Residents plan to pay for health insurance (out of their own pockets) in the next year. And 51.4% of Rural Residents have children younger than 17 living at home.
The American Community Survey five-year statistics show that the characteristics of rural residents differed depending on the level of rurality of their county of residence.