America 2020: Two Nations and the Myth of One Community

Ivan Potter

Since the very first day of its founding, America has been a nation in motion of trying to define itself through exploration of geography, settlement of frontiers, inventors of always new technology and a fear of what lies across the great oceans. For many, this fear comes from a primeval lineage of families fleeing hells of economic slavery and minority persecution for religion or culture.

2020: New Decade in Motion

The following data is from the Joint Economic Committee of Congress.

Today, nearly 80% of the U.S. population lives in metropolitan areas, while only about 15% lives in rural areas.

The long-lasting divide between rural and urban America has continued to grow since the last recession. "The Great Recession hit harder and lasted longer in rural communities, and many predominantly rural states still have yet to recover from the depths of the recession," wrote Martin Heinrich in a May 2017 minority staff report to the congressional Joint Economic Committee.

Since 2007, the median income of rural America has averaged 25% below U.S. metropolitan areas.

In the south, nearly a quarter of rural populations live below the poverty line.

Rural populations are shrinking as people move near cities for better opportunities in education and employment.

In 2000, 27% of metro-area residents held a bachelor's degree or higher, compared to 16% for those living in rural communities; by 2016, that 11-percentage point gap had grown to 15 percentage points.

Nearly 80% of those living outside of metropolitan areas hold only a high school diploma, or less.