rural population

Rural Kansas has a storied past. But as once-thriving towns continue to shrink — does it have a future? That depends on who you ask. In season two of My Fellow Kansans, host Jim McLean explores rural Kansas to discover what the future holds for rural communities across the state. 

Our conversation begins October 18. Subscribe now.

Rural America has never been only one place, one type of person or one type of job.

And new data points to the growing complexity and diversity of those parts of the country.

Author and podcast host Sarah Smarsh wrote in The New York Times recently about so-called “brain gain” instead of “brain drain.”

If this page loaded for you almost instantaneously after you clicked on it, there’s a solid chance you’re not currently living in rural Kansas.

More than 95,000 people, about 3.5 percent of the state’s population, don’t have internet access.

And it’s not just the more rural areas. According to the nonprofit Connected Nation, pockets of suburbs in Kansas City and Dodge City were lacking in high-speed internet coverage.

DODGE CITY — Kansas is bathed in shades of blue that stretch north to south, east to west. That’s not a reference to politics: It’s what the state looks like on the Federal Communications Commission’s Fixed Broadband Deployment map. 

Gov. Laura Kelly said Wednesday she’ll dispatch her lieutenant governor to a dozen small cities across the state in hopes of crafting a plan to aid rural areas.

Kelly created the Office of Rural Prosperity and named Lt. Gov. Lynn Rogers to head it in January soon after taking office.

Rogers will travel to 12 rural communities this summer to “listen to Kansans” and develop “long-term, sustainable solutions” to problems that have spurred decades of population decline in all but a handful of the state’s 105 counties.

Crawling internet speeds in rural Kansas make trying to sell cattle online exasperating.

Instead of uploading photos and videos of cattle for sale from home, farmer and cattleman Jay Young drives to his parents’ house or into the town of Tribune in far west Kansas where internet speeds are faster.

Young has a broadband connection and says he’s able to create a cattle listing from home, but the slow internet brings on additional work.

For the first time in seven years, rural America’s population is growing.

The annual U.S. Department of Agriculture report “Rural America at a Glance” found the increase — only 0.08 percent — mainly in scenic rural areas like the Rocky Mountains, more densely populated rural areas and rural communities that are within about an hour’s drive of a major city. Essentially, places where people still have access to urban amenities or can go hiking, biking, fishing or skiing.

A new poll suggests 72 percent of voters, regardless of party affiliation, believe Congress and federal regulators “need to do more” to bring high-speed internet to rural Americans.

Kansas is on its way to becoming a majority-minority state, with white residents expected to make up less than half of the population by 2066.

A new report from the Kansas Health Institute shows that the state is quickly becoming older, more urban and more diverse.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

In places where the unemployment rate is well below the national average—states like Nebraska, Colorado and Iowa—one would think it’d be easier for communities to recruit new residents to fill open jobs.

But the housing market works against rural towns and cities where jobs often stay open because there are too few affordable homes and apartments to buy or rent, or the ones that are affordable need lots of TLC. It’s a situation that threatens to turn low unemployment from an advantage into a liability.

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