Wednesday, July 17, 2024

"Rural" makes an appearance in chatter about J.D. Vance, but not in his convention speech

This is from the New York Times right now:  

Live Election Updates: J.D. Vance Addresses Republican Convention

A night focused on foreign policy featured fiery denouncements of President Biden on his policies and age. Donald Trump Jr., the former president’s son, assailed Democrats and the president.

Here’s what’s happening:

In the biggest speech of his political career, Senator J.D. Vance connected his difficult upbringing in rural Ohio to challenges now confronting the working class, decrying Democratic policies and Wall Street.

To be clear, Middletown, Ohio, population 50,000, is not rural by any measure.  Also, Vance did not himself use the word "rural" in his speech. 

Here's a report from The Hill's live reporting on Vance's speech, which played to "rural" and/or "hillbilly" themes:

Vance shared a story about his grandmother that drew loud applause from the audience.

“My Mamaw died shortly before I left for Iraq in 2005, and when we went through her things we found 19 loaded handguns,” Vance said, prompting cheers and chants of “Mamaw.”

“Now, the thing is, they were stashed all over her house … This frail old woman made sure that no matter where she was, she was within arm’s length of whatever she needed to protect her family,” Vance said as the crowd cheered. 
— Julia Mueller

This is a quote from the NewYork Times story about Usha Vance's introduction of her husband's acceptance speech (emphasis mine):  

She leaned into the story about her husband’s impoverished upbringing and the laws of opposites attracting, highlighting their different backgrounds.

“When J.D. met me, he approached our differences with curiosity and enthusiasm,” Ms. Vance said. “He wanted to know everything about me, where I came from, what my life had been like.”

The couple met at Yale Law School, where Ms. Vance helped Mr. Vance organize his ideas about social decline in rural white America, the basis of his breakout memoir, “Hillbilly Elegy.” They were married in 2014 in Kentucky and have three children. She is the daughter of Indian immigrants.

Here's an interesting tweet from the right, but it doesn't ring true.  

I exist in a very lefty media ecosystem, and I've not (yet) seen the left talking of Vance's "insufficiencies."  I've not seen his class of origin made an issue--nor, as of yet, any "insufficiency."  What I am seeing made an issue of is Vance's increasingly intolerant leanings.  

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

J.D. Vance's rise prompts hillbilly musings from Latino columnist

Columnis Gustavo Arellano writes in today's Los Angeles Times under the headline, "I know what a true hillbilly is, and it's not J.D. Vance."  Here's an excerpt, which at least nods to the rural connotation of hillbilly:  
From the moment I learned about hillbillies as a child, I was entranced.

Good ol’ boys and girls born high up in the mountains? That’s my parents. People who moved from rural towns to metro areas in search of a better life? Story of both sides of my family. Working class? My upbringing. Lovers of things — food, fashion, music, diction, parties — that polite society ridiculed? Yee-haw! Stubbornly clinging to their ancestral lands and ways? ¡Ajúa!

I learned to love bourbon, bluegrass, “Hee Haw” reruns and Jeff Foxworthy’s “You Might Be a Redneck If ...” series. As an adult, I drove through the small towns of central and eastern Kentucky and Tennessee, feeling at home in areas even my white friends warned wouldn’t take kindly to “my type.” I might not have outwardly resembled the ’billies I met — I’m a cholo nerd, after all — but we got along just fine, because they were my brothers and sisters from another madre.

That’s why I was intrigued when J.D. Vance’s memoir, “Hillbilly Elegy,” was released in 2016. From what I heard about it, the familial dysfunction, generational poverty and inherent fatalism that Vance overcame were similar to the pathologies of my own extended clan. The up-from-bootstraps message he preached in interviews was what my parents had always preached, and what I still subscribe to. Vance’s critique of conspicuous consumption among the poor is something everyone should consider.

But the parallels between the clean-cut Vance and me only went so far. He was a Yale graduate and venture capitalist, while I’m a community college kid who chose a dying profession. He was far removed from his roots, while I experience mine nearly every other weekend at family parties. More importantly, Vance cast himself as an extraordinary exception to his fellow Appalachians, describing ’billies as encased in a toxic amber that kept them from improving their lot and left them embittered with a country that has moved on without them.

My Mexican hillbilly family never had time to whine and mope.
And that's where I'm more like Arellano than Vance, even though I'm non-Hispanic white.  I wasn't raised to talk about how the deck was stacked against me.  I was raised to reach for what I wanted, for what would empower me.  No one ever suggested any shame at the public university route to that success.  

But we live in a different time.  Now, everyone is encouraged to play up their disadvantages and to downplay their agency.  And that is as big a difference b/w Arellano and Vance as their different ethnicities--indeed, I'd say it is a greater difference.  

Cross-posted to Working Class Whites and the Law. 

Monday, July 15, 2024

My Rural Travelogue (Part XL): Esmeralda County, Nevada

Esmeralda County Seal on county vehicle behind courthouse in Goldfield
(c) Lisa R. Pruitt 2024
I got interested in Esmeralda County, Nevada (population 729) last month after reading Eli Saslow's piece in the New York Times about how conspiracy theories regarding elections have taken over there, threatening the recall of a Republican county clerk in this remote corner of The Silver State where the population density is 1 person per five square miles.  Here is an excerpt from the story, which centers on Cindy Elgan, the County Clerk, a Republican, who some residents wanted to recall once they became suspicious of her handling of the 2020 election results:  
They falsely claimed the election was stolen by voting software designed in Venezuela, or by election machines made in China. They accused George Soros of manipulating Nevada’s voter rolls. They blamed “undercover activists” for stealing ballots out of machines with hot dog tongs. They blamed the Dominion voting machines that the county had been using without incident for two decades, saying they could be hacked with a ballpoint pen to “flip the vote and swing an entire election in five minutes.” They demanded a future in which every vote in Esmeralda County was cast on paper and then counted by hand.

And when Elgan continued to stand up at each meeting to dispute and disprove those accusations by citing election laws and facts, they began to blame her, too — the most unlikely scapegoat of all. She had served as the clerk without controversy for two decades as an elected Republican, and she flew a flag at her own home that read: “Trump 2024 — Take America Back.” But lately some local Republicans had begun referring to her as “Luciferinda” or as the “clerk of the deep state cabal.” They accused her of being paid off by Dominion and skimming votes away from Trump, and even though their allegations came with no evidence, they wanted her recalled from office before the next presidential election in November.

* * *  

[Elgan] took the recall petition back into her office, and over the next several days she continued to flip through the pages in disbelief. She counted at least 130 signatures, which at first glance appeared to be enough to force a recall election if the signatures and corresponding addresses proved legitimate. 

You'll have to read the rest of the story to find out what happened with the petition. 

A place of business, apparently, in Goldfield

 So, when I drove through a few different parts of Esmeralda County a few weeks after Saslow's story appeared, the place was definitely on my radar screen.  I stopped--even amidst 100 F temperatures--to  take lots of photos.  

Esmeralda County Courthouse, Goldfield, NV
(c) Lisa R. Pruitt 2024
One of many flyers on front door of the courthouse
(c) Lisa R. Pruitt 2024

Back of Esmeralda County Courthouse, presumably jail
(c) Lisa R. Pruitt 2024
A church across from the county courthouse, Goldfield
(c) Lisa R. Pruitt 2024

Esmeralda County Transit 
(c) Lisa R Pruitt 2024

Public School Gymnasium, Goldfield
(c) Lisa R. Pruitt 2024
Yesterday, The Daily, the NYTimes podcast, featured Saslow's story as its Sunday read, so it seemed the time was right to publish my photos of Esmeralda County and Goldfield, the tiny county seat where the vast majority of residents live in what looks like an outsider to a time warp, or maybe a twilight zone.  

Surprise:  an electric car charger at the Visitor Information Center, Goldfield
(c) Lisa R. Pruitt 2024

Sunday, July 14, 2024

On the rural-urban divide in food insecurity and the role of federal aid

That is not the primary point of Annie Gowen's Washington Post story out of Elk City, Oklahoma, population 12,000, but it is a point that ultimately gets made in the story headlined, "A mom struggles to feed her kids after GOP states reject federal funds."   One of the consequences of Oklahoma's decision to turn away federal food aid is a burgeoning reliance on the local food pantry.  Here's that part of the story, which explicitly highlights rural disadavntage: 

Inside the Elk City Help Inc. Food Resource Center, volunteers assemble grocery carts full of U.S. Department of Agriculture-branded peas, applesauce and pork patties as well as donated items for residents who meet income guidelines. On Fridays, Executive Director Meghan Palmer puts out a call on Facebook that they’ll be offering perishable leftovers for anyone in town. The hopeful begin arriving two hours early.

There is a growing number of families among the 1,900 people Palmer feeds every month — a distressing though not surprising development given the city’s poverty rate of 26 percent, more than double the national average. Donations fund the center’s $98,000 annual budget. She’s tried for federal grants in the past, but those often require a recipient to be located near a larger city to capitalize on existing infrastructure and maximize impact.

Here's a direct quote from Palmer: 

One of the biggest issues we have is that all of the organizations and programs are tailored for larger cities and larger communities.  In rural America, we often get forgotten. It’s really powerful and extremely frustrating.

* * *  

We were pretty beside ourselves.  The ball has been dropped for Oklahomans. We’re constantly on the bottom — in mental health, poverty, food insecurity, education. It was just another slap in our face.

The story continues: 

The town’s rural location hampers its ability to respond to needy residents in other ways, too. In the eastern part of the state, two Native American tribes — the Cherokee and the Chickasaw — are administering the summer card program on their own and reaching 250,000 children, according to federal officials.

The tribes, nonprofits and local school districts expanded the spots where kids can get free meals or pick up a sack lunch. Yet a large swath of Oklahoma remains unserved. The closest location to Elk City is 25 miles away.

Here's a post from a decade ago detailing the struggle to effectively distribute food aid in rural locales.  

Friday, July 12, 2024

Both NYTimes and LATimes cover the matter of electric school busses in rural America

Last December, Hailey Branson-Potts wrote this LA Times story about electric school busses in far northern California,  The dateline was Susanville, population 17,000, county seat of Lsssen County, which is about the size of Delaware, with a population density of 7.2 persons per square mile. The headline is "California is pumped about electric buses.  Rural schools say they're a pain." (The alternative headline is "California rural schools say electric buses won't work."

Dionne Searcey wrote this NY Times story about electric school busses in Nebraska, published just this week.  Her story is out of her hometown of Wymore in Gage County, population 21,000, in the more populous eastern part of the state.  Because Searcey is writing about her hometown, she frequently mentions having been in school with several of the men featured in the story.  Her headline is "A Brand New Electric Bus, No Charge. (That Was One Problem)."  The subhead is "In tiny Wymore, Neb., a sleek new battery-powered school bus became a Rorschach test for the future."

As reflected in their respective headlines, both of these stories engage the politics of the rural-urban divide, as well as the practical challenges of traversing the long distances associated with rural living and doing so with little charging infrastructure.  Here's a representative paragraph from the NYT story:
[T]he electric bus became a surrogate for far bigger issues this quiet corner of the nation is facing. In conversations in the school boardroom, at the volunteer fire hall and at the American Legion bar, the bus exposed fears of an unwelcome future, one where wind turbines tower across the flatlands, power generated by Nebraska solar farms is sent out of state and electric cars strand drivers on lonesome gravel roads.
Both pieces are well worth a read.  

For contrast, here's a Los Angeles Times story on the uber-urban Oakland (California) School District going all electric with its school bus fleet. 

Thursday, July 11, 2024

Luxury housing market goes rural--in SoCal, and likely elsewhere

The Los Angles Times ran a story today by Jack Fleming, "Mansions in the desert: Why Californians buy big in cheap, remote areas."  There's a rural angle here, though it is not called out as such.  Here's an excerpt: 

DeeAnn Noland has crafted her own slice of paradise in Southern California.

Her property is perched in the hills, overlooking the city below. It spans nearly 7 acres and feels more like a resort than a home, boasting a 6,000-square-foot Spanish-style villa and a swimming pool topped by palm trees.

Her dream house isn’t found in Beverly Hills or Bel-Air or Malibu.

It’s in Hemet — and it cost her $740,000.

Southern California is riddled with luxury enclaves, but it’ll cost you. As housing prices soar, some Angelenos are bailing on the big city in favor of places that are hotter, dryer and more remote, sprawling out into Riverside, San Bernardino and Kern counties in search of dirt-cheap mansions.

In L.A., $1 million might not even buy a second bedroom. A few hours outside L.A., $1 million can buy a dream house. 

* * *  

Noland does well, but she’s far from rich. Her late husband was a civil engineer, and she breeds animals for extra income. But in Hemet, she lives like royalty.

Tucked in the San Jacinto Valley, Hemet has a median family income of $49,901, and a median home value of $444,221, according to Zillow. Five years ago, Business Insider named it the 44th most miserable city in the country, citing high poverty and crime rates.

“It’s no Beverly Hills,” said resident Eric Hernandez on a walk through the Hemet Valley Mall. “It’s a nice community, but not luxurious.”

The story features several other illustrations of what it calls a trend. 

This recent post about home prices in remote parts of California is related.  As they say in real estate, it's all about location, location, location.  To state the obvious, rural and remote locations typically do not add much, if any, value to home prices.  That said, some of the owners of massive homes featured in this LA Times story talk about enjoying the privacy associated with their remote locales. 

Saturday, July 6, 2024

On loss of services--aka "desertification"--as a reason for rural disgruntlement

"In the French Countryside, a Deep Discontent Takes Root" is the headline for the pre-election story by NYTimes Paris bureau chief Roger Cohen.  The subhead is "In northern Burgundy, services have collapsed and the far-right National Rally has risen."  What's striking to me about this story is the similarity between this French form of rural neglect/resentment and what we have seen in the United States of a similar ilk.   Here are some relevant quotes: 

Residents in this sparsely populated region of France — the Yonne district in northwestern Burgundy has only about 335,000 inhabitants — describe what is happening to their community as “desertification,” by which they mean an emptying out of services, and of their lives.

Schools close. Train stations close. Post offices close. Doctors and dentists leave. Cafés and small convenience stores close, squeezed by megastores. People need to go further for services, jobs and food. Many travel in their old cars but are encouraged by the authorities to switch to electric cars, which are priced way beyond their means.

At the same time, since the war in Ukraine, gas and electricity bills have shot up, leading some to switch off their heating last winter. They feel invisible and only just get by; and on their televisions they see President Emmanuel Macron explaining the critical importance of such abstract policies as European “strategic autonomy.” It is not their concern.

Along comes the National Rally, saying its focus is on people, not ideas, the purchasing power of people above all.

The story quotes National Rally party candidate Sophie-Laurence Roy, whose reference to territory I read to be linked to "place," even land. 

My party is anchored in this territory, it is not, like our president, trying to give moral lessons to the whole world.

As for the receptivity to these appeals, here is a quote from André Villiers, "a centrist allied to the party of Mr. Macron — and Ms. Roy’s opponent in Sunday’s runoff":  

Our French heartland has the feeling of being forgotten.  What you see here in the National Rally surge is anger and alienation.

Note how similar some of these thoughts are to what has been labeled rural resentment--and often dismissed as unreasonable--in the United States. Another relevant post is here.   Recall that Kathy Cramer's 2016 book about the shift in Wisconsin politics was titled The Politics of Resentment

The yellow vest protests of a few years ago also seem relevant.  Some posts about those protests are here.

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

NY Times magazine's long read on Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez invokes rurality (and, of course, class)

Marie Gluesenkamp Perez's X (formerly Twitter) bio

Jason Zengerle's story appears in the New York Times Magazine this week under the headline, "The Blue-Collar Democrat Who Wants to Fix the Party’s Other Big Problem."  The subhead deploys the "r-word," which is frequently used to describe Gluesenkamp Perez's southwest Washington district.  "Marie Gluesenkamp Perez flipped a rural red district to get to Congress. Now she wants to help her party do more of the same."  I'm going to refer to her as MGP in this post.

I've written a lot about MGP here on the blog.  For this post, I'm just going to excerpt the bits of this story with the word "rural" in them; there are nine including the subhead.  (Elsewhere, on the Working Class Whites blog, I emphasize the parts of this story that are more explicitly about class).  

The first use of "rural"  comes in the opening paragraph where the lede describes her as "a first-term Democrat from a rural district in Washington State."  The story elsewhere describes her district as "includ[ing] Portland’s northern suburbs and exurbs but is more than 7,000 square miles and largely rural."

The next mention comes much later in relation to another rural congressperson, Jared Golden, whose politics are similar to MGP's:
Representing Maine’s almost entirely rural Second Congressional District, [Jared Golden] was one of only four Democrats who deviated from the party during the vote on Trump’s first impeachment (two of them subsequently became Republicans) and the only Democrat to vote against President Biden’s $1.9 trillion Build Back Better Act (over a tax break for the wealthy); at the same time, he voted for a $15-an-hour minimum wage and Biden’s $700 billion Inflation Reduction Act. “The Republican Party spends millions of dollars telling people I’m a progressive,” Golden told me. “The Progressive Caucus spends time telling people I’m a conservative. A lot of people, especially the media, like to call me a moderate. I would say I’m none of these things and I’m all of these things. And my constituents are too.”
Describing MGP and her husband Dean, who have an auto repair shop:
They lived in a school bus that Gluesenkamp Perez bought off Craigslist, vagabonding around Portland until they found a rural piece of land on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge, where they built a house for themselves and, eventually, their son.

* * * 

The most intriguing is Rebecca Cooke, who’s running to unseat the Republican firebrand Derrick Van Orden in a rural Wisconsin district. Cooke, age 36, operates a small hospitality business and works as a waitress. On the campaign trail, she is attacking Van Orden on abortion, Jan. 6 and a well-reported incident last year in which he cursed out a group of teenage Senate pages in the Capitol; she touts her parents’ dairy farm and her own employment history as crucial touchstones. “You don’t see a lot of people my age or with my type of background running for Congress,” she says. “And it’s because we’re all busy working.” 

At a campaign stop MGP talked about what this year's vote will say about her constituents and their community:  

I’m trying to get the political machine to understand that rural people aren’t going to put up with Joe Kent’s [expletive].  People think that we’re just ignorant, that we are small-minded, that we are uneducated in rural communities. And we know that’s [expletive].

I'm thinking about how there's a lot of Michael Sandel's Tyranny of Merit in her messaging. 

A a rally in Longview, Washington, population 37,818, MGP said,
The reason that I am on the top of the R.N.C.’s hit list is not because of my bangs. It’s because if Democrats figure out how to hold and represent seats where people work for a living in rural communities and in small towns, places like here, we will break the map on what it means to have a governing majority.

I'll also note here that MGP's X (formerly Twitter) account seems to claim her rurality where it includes "lives in the woods."  

Monday, July 1, 2024

Playing on the presumptive conservativism of rural customers to quash private-sector DEI efforts

Sarah Nassauer reported yesterday for the Wall Street Journal under the headline, "How Tractor Supply Decided to End DEI, and Fast."  

The gist of the story is that in a period of less than a month, Tractor Supply Hardware abandoned its diversity efforts after former Hollywood director turned conservative activist" Robby Starbuck posted on X, "It’s time to expose Tractor Supply."  Starbuck then "laid out a string of complaints about stances taken by the company and its leaders, from a warehouse displaying pride flags to the CEO promoting the Covid-19 vaccine."  Starbuck encouraged the company's shoppers, who he assumed to be conservative based in part on the rural locales of many Tractor Supply stores, to take their business to other retailers.  

According to the WSJ, the Tennesse-based retailer quickly began to talk about "how to  quash criticism before the controversy was seized on by conservative media."  

The story continues: 

Three weeks later, Tractor Supply delivered its decision: Diversity, equity and inclusion at the rural chain were over, including related job roles, and so were some of its environmental initiatives and other causes frequently championed by social progressives.

* * *

The effectiveness of Starbuck’s campaign—and Tractor Supply’s swift and decisive reversal—show how the tide has turned against efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in American corporations. Four years ago many companies saw it as a necessity to support these policies. Today some see it as too much of a risk.

* * * 

The retailer was particularly vulnerable to the attacks. The chain, known for selling animal feed and workwear, boasts a customer base that executives say skews more male and rural than other major retailers. Its shoppers tend to support conservative political candidates, they say.

Postscript:  Interestingly, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette features this headline in today's paper, "Walmart says it has no plans to change diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives."  Serenah McKay reports:

Conservative groups continue pressuring [Walmart] to modify or drop such efforts altogether, placing businesses in a position in which they risk drawing the ire of customers on both sides of the political spectrum.

"We want everyone to feel they belong whether shopping in or working in our stores, clubs and offices," Walmart said in a statement.

Saturday, June 29, 2024

"How 'Rural Studies' is Thinking about the Heartland" in the NYT

That's the headline for a feature story by Emma Goldberg in the New York Times.  The subhead is "What’s the matter with America’s rural voters? Many scholars believe that the question itself is the problem."

Goldberg's story leads with a mini profile of Kristin Lunz Trujillo, a political science professor at the University of South Carolina.  Goldberg tells of how Lunz Trujillo, who grew up on a farm in Minnesota, felt alienated culturally when she headed off to Carleton College as a college freshman.  (And a lot of scholars who grew up in rural America have probably had similar experiences; I'm reminded of this 2006 essay, "Farming Made Her Stupid.").

Some excerpts from Goldberg's feature story follow: 

A Rural Renaissance

There is an obvious reason for academics’ neglect of the political urban-rural divide until recently: It barely existed.

From the 1970s to the early 1990s, rural counties resembled urban ones in their presidential choices, including supporting the Republicans Richard M. Nixon and Ronald Reagan and the Democrat Bill Clinton. It’s only since the late 1990s that there has been a marked gap between rural and urban voting patterns in presidential elections, and it has widened ever since. In 2016, Mr. Trump won 59 percent of rural voters. Four years later, that climbed to 65 percent, according to Pew. And in the 2022 midterms, Republicans won 69 percent of the rural vote.
* * *
[R]ural communities can be wildly different socially. “When you aggregate to the national level, you lose so much,” said Zoe Nemerever, a political scientist at Utah Valley University. “I get frustrated especially when people talk about rural America as white America. In some states, it’s Latino America. In the Deep South, it’s Black America.”

Traditionally, political scientists argued that measuring the effects of place was just a proxy for looking at other parts of identity, like race or education. And because many did not come from rural areas, growing up rural didn’t tend to strike academics as a salient part of political identity.

Maybe because so few people fashioned themselves as “rural political experts” until recently, the few high-profile explanations for the rise of rural Republicanism were widely embraced by the chattering classes.

Goldberg discusses how Thomas Frank's What's the Matter with Kansas (2004) fueled some of the current generation of political scientists who are creating more nuanced narratives about rural voters based on carefully designed empirical research.  

Michael Shepherd read the book in high school, college and again in graduate school, and never changed his opinion. “I felt like it was pretty snooty,” said Mr. Shepherd, now a political scientist at the University of Texas at Austin, who grew up in Bardstown, Ky., the heart of bourbon making. “It really missed a lot of what was going on in communities like mine.”

And here's a great quote from Nick Jacobs, co-author of The Rural Voter (Columbia University Press 2023), a book that has attracted considerable attention.  

We contribute to the further denigration of expertise when we say, ‘This is what the experts say about these rubes and bumpkins.'  Who’s going to trust the experts when that’s what the experts have to say about you?

Importantly, Goldberg picks up on one of the key points Jacobs made following publication of Tom Schaller and Paul Waldman's White Rural Rage (and Paul Krugman's columns also using the word "rage" to describe rural white folks):  the distinction between resentment and rage. 

My beef with this Goldberg article:  she conflates "rural studies" with political science scholars who focus on rural voters.  That completely ignores the very robust discipline of rural sociology.  

You'll find lots of commentary on The Rural Voter and White Rural Rage (2024) here and here, among other posts on this blog. 

Friday, June 28, 2024

Aging and population loss in small-town Pennsylvania

That's the topic of Tim Crane's story in the Washington Post last weekend, "'Too many old people’: A rural Pa. town reckons with population loss."  Here's an excerpt from the report, dateline Sheffield, Pennsylvania, a census-designated place with a population of 1,123

Across rural Pennsylvania, there is a deepening sense of fear about the future as population loss accelerates. The sharp decline has put the state at the forefront of a national discussion on the viability of the small towns that have long been a pillar of American culture.

America’s rural population began contracting about a decade ago, according to statistics drawn from the U.S. Census Bureau.

A whopping 81 percent of rural counties had more deaths than births between 2019 and 2023, according to an analysis by a University of New Hampshire demographer. Experts who study the phenomena say the shrinking baby boomer population and younger residents having smaller families and moving elsewhere for jobs are fueling the trend.

According to a recent Agriculture Department estimate, the rural population did rebound by 0.25 percent from 2020 to 2022 as some families decamped from urban areas during the pandemic. But demographers say they are still evaluating whether that trend will continue, and if so, where.