Survey: Rural folks optimistic about tomorrow, happy where they live

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America’s rural residents are optimistic about the future, like where they live, but worry about drug abuse in the communities and the health of their local economies.

That’s according to the results of a survey taken of 1,300 adults living in the rural United States.

The topics of discussion touched on jobs, education, economic opportunity and health, among others, and were compiled in a document titled, “Life In Rural America,” released this month..

For the most part, rural residents like where they live, mainly because of the strong connections to their families and neighbors. They `generally feel their lives are turning out as they expected, if not better.

Rural residents believe the number of good jobs in their local community will either stay the same or increase in the next five years. When asked what would be most helpful to their local economies, rural residents identify the creation of better long-term jobs (64%), greater support for local public schools (61%), improvements in access to health care (55%), and job training and skills development (51%) as critical areas for investment.

Beyond hopes and concerns for their local economies and schools, a majority of rural residents agree opioid addiction is a serious problem in their community (57 percent), with about half of them personally knowing someone who has struggled with opioid addiction (49 percent). Almost one-quarter of rural adults (23 percent) say that drug addiction or abuse is the most urgent health problem currently facing their community, followed by cancer (12 percent) and access to care (11 percent).

The survey was conducted by NPR, the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

You can read more details about the poll, along with information on the methodology used, here.

You can also download the full report here.

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