Tag Archives: geography

RTC:Rural presents geography research on disability and employment rates at AAG meeting

Conference presentation showing speakers and slide behind with map of the USA

RTC:Rural Researcher Andrew Myers presenting at the American Association of Geographers 2017 annual meeting in Boston, MA. Photo Credit: Sandy Wong.

RTC:Rural’s presentation at the 2017 American Association of Geographers annual meeting generated enthusiastic conversation about the values and challenges of using big data to address rural issues.  Andrew Myers, Research Associate at RTC: Rural, recently returned from this conference, held in Boston, MA. There, he presented RTC:Rural research on current disability patterns in rural America with a focus on employment rates. His presentation, titled “Current Disability Patterns in Rural America,” was part of the Geographies of Disability 1: Mapping and Accessibility session. Coauthors include RTC:Rural Research Associate Lillie Greiman and University of Montana graduate student Kourtney Johnson.

The AAG’s Disability Specialty Group brought international researchers together to share the latest geographical research about disability. Myers is a board member of the AAG Disability Specialty Group, and helped organize the “Geographies of Disability” track at the conference.

Using data from the American Community Survey, Myers, Greiman, and Johnson found that the national disability rate in the United States is 12.5%. When they looked at the county level, they found that disability rates were higher in rural counties, at 17.7%, than in urban ones, with rates of only 11.8%.

Overall, employment rates for people with disabilities are lower in rural areas, which follows the national trend of lower employment rates in rural areas. However, said Myers, “It would be misleading to say that rates of employment [for people with disabilities] always go down as you get more rural. In fact, in some rural communities employment rates of people with disabilities are higher than the national average of 33%.”

Myers, Greiman, and Johnson have a number of hypotheses they are investigating, and are currently writing up their findings for publication. Continue reading

RTC:Rural contributing to disability sessions at the American Association of Geographers annual meeting this week

This week, RTC:Rural researcher Andrew Myers will coordinate and participate in the discussion of American disability demographics, at the annual meeting of the American Association of Geographers (AAG). This three-session track contributes to the conference’s featured theme “Mainstreaming Human Rights in Geography and the AAG.”

RTC:Rural researcher presenting at a conference

The AAG conference is the primary annual gathering of geographers, GIS specialists, environmental scientists, and other leaders from around the country. To be held April 5-9, 2017 in Boston, MA, the conference will feature over 6,900 presentations, posters, workshops, and field trips by leading scholars, experts, and researchers. It includes the latest in research and applications in geography, sustainability, and GIScience.

RTC:Rural researcher Andrew Myers is a board member of the AAG’s Disability Specialty Group, and is an organizer of the three-part “Geographies of Disability” track at the conference. The components of this track are:

As part of the Mapping and Accessibility paper session, Myers will present “Current Disability Patterns in Rural America.” This presentation includes the recent findings of RTC:Rural’s Geography of Disability project, which analyzed American Community Survey data for the demographics of people with disability living in rural areas and the services available to them. Results reveal that rates of disability are higher in rural areas across many demographic categories such as age, race, veteran status, and impairment type. Employment rates vary in correspondence with the urban-rural continuum as well. Geographical nuances are an important factor in explaining these findings. Co-authors of these findings include RTC:Rural researcher Lillie Greiman and University of Montana graduate student Kourtney Johnson. Continue reading

Six charts that illustrate the divide between rural and urban America

RTC:Rural is proud that our researchers were invited to contribute to this article, which was published in The Conversation on March 17, 2017, and subsequently on PBS News, US News & World Report, and Salon.


Authors: Brian Thiede, Pennsylvania State University; Lillie Greiman, The University of Montana; Stephan Weiler, Colorado State University; Steven C. Beda, University of Oregon, and Tessa Conroy, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Editor’s note: We’ve all heard of the great divide between life in rural and urban America. But what are the factors that contribute to these differences? We asked sociologists, economists, geographers and historians to describe the divide from different angles. The data paint a richer and sometimes surprising picture of the U.S. today. The Conversation

1. Poverty is higher in rural areas

Discussions of poverty in the United States often mistakenly focus on urban areas. While urban poverty is a unique challenge, rates of poverty have historically been higher in rural than urban areas. In fact, levels of rural poverty were often double those in urban areas throughout the 1950s and 1960s.

While these rural-urban gaps have diminished markedly, substantial differences persist. In 2015, 16.7 percent of the rural population was poor, compared with 13.0 percent of the urban population overall – and 10.8 percent among those living in suburban areas outside of principal cities.

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New tool available to access disability data

Finding big data about rural America is challenging. Finding big data about disability in rural America can seem impossible. Meanwhile, access to current information about disability in rural areas is important as these areas consistently experience higher disability rates than their urban counterparts.

Disability Counts logoThe Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities (RTC:Rural) recently re-launched the Disability Counts Data Finder, an online tool that allows users to easily access disability data for every county in the United States and Puerto Rico. Using a simple interface, users select their state and counties of interest, and generate a table with population estimates, disability rates, margins of error, and rural/urban classifications.

Disability Counts uses the most recent 5-year American Community Survey data and the 2015 Office of Management and Budget Metropolitan-Micropolitan Statistical Areas delineation files. These datasets were specifically chosen so that Disability Counts could provide insight into the county’s rural status alongside the disability rate, clearly showing the correlation between disability rates and rural areas. We have found that this information is particularly sought after by advocates and policymakers.

Map of disability rates by county

Disability rates by county across the United States – rural counties consistently show higher disability rates than their urban counterparts.

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RTC:Rural researchers featured in The Conversation article highlighting rural/urban divide

Headshots of the RTC:Rural researchers

Lillie Greiman, Andrew Myers and Christiane von Reichert

We are proud that the feature article of today’s issue of The Conversation newsletter includes the work of RTC:Rural’s geography project.

Lillie Greiman, M.A., and Andrew Myers, M.A., RTC:Rural Research Associates, with Christiane von Reichert, Ph.D., Professor of Geography at the University of Montana, contributed to an article about the rural/urban divide that was recently published on The Conversation.

Titled “Six charts that illustrate the divide between rural and urban America,” the article is a collaboration among the UM researchers and sociologists, economists, and historians at universities around the country. The article explores factors that contribute to the differences between life in rural and urban areas.

Greiman, Myers, and von Reichert contributed the section about disability rates across the country, based on their previous research and analysis of the most recent American Community Survey data.

The Conversation is an independent source of news and views from the academic and research community. It is a foundation-supported news source with a mission to help professors get high-quality research into the public sphere.