June 17 (UPI) -- Americans who live in rural communities have a significantly worse view of the U.S. economy and job opportunities than those who live in cities or their suburbs, a new poll shows.
A Washington Post/Kaiser Foundation survey found 67 percent of rural Americans surveyed rated job opportunities in their community "fair" or "poor." City dwellers were split almost evenly on the question, with 50 percent rating job prospects as "excellent" or "good."
Economic data are mixed on whether the rural pessimism is warranted. The unemployment rate in rural parts of the country is only slightly higher than in cities – 5.3 percent versus 4.8 percent. But numbers produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics show rural America has been much slower to recover from the 2008 recession.
According to the Labor Department, employment in urban and suburban areas has rebounded, adding 3 million jobs onto pre-recession levels. Those gains have largely come thanks to an influx of new workers who fled joblessness in rural America for population centers. Rural America still has about 129,000 fewer jobs than it did before the recession.
The Post/Kaiser poll also asked respondents whether they would recommend young people stay in their communities or leave to seek economic opportunities elsewhere. Among rural Americans, 32 percent said young people should stay, while 59 percent said they should leave. Among urban respondents, 54 percent said they should stay, while 41 percent said they should leave.
The poll surveyed 1,070 adults in equal numbers from counties considered urban, suburban and rural. It was conducted from April 13 to May 1 and has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.