Ken Lund (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Series: Wisconsin's Rural-Urban Continuum

Most Wisconsinites live in urban and suburban communities, but the state’s landscape is dominated by rural areas where farmland and forest predominate. But what makes a given place rural? What about small towns or exurbs or "up north" tourist destinations? And when is a place even considered small in the first place? Defining the continuum between rural and urban areas is complex and can be a contentious matter. It is also continuously in flux as people grow older, have children and move between places in pursuit of different opportunities. The demographics of rural Wisconsin are changing rapidly, with populations aging and overall numbers decreasing in many areas. These shifts have profound implications for the state as a whole, and will shape its economy, politics and culture.
New data from an annual U.S. Census report show that some regions in Wisconsin had significant shifts in population from 2016 to 2017.
There is increasing interest in understanding rural issues in the United States. Malia Jones of the UW Applied Population Laboratory discusses the variety of ways "rural" can be defined, related to the economy, land use, access to services and other factors.
Economic trends in Wisconsin have recovered considerably a decade since the Great Recession. UW-Madison economics professor Noah Williams discusses what effects are on the workforce, particularly between rural and urban areas.
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Two-thirds of Wisconsin's rural counties lost population between 2010 and 2018, according to a report from Forward Analytics. It's a trend that's likely to get worse in the next decade.
Since the Great Recession, more people have been migrating out of Wisconsin than moving into the state — a pattern contrary to Minnesota and Iowa.
They're older and aging faster, and persistently whiter than Wisconsin as a whole. More people are moving out than in. In some, deaths are already eclipsing births.
Rural America and the issues faced by people who live in rural places are at the center of the national conversation. But once you go outside of our major cities, exactly what places are considered rural?
Political narratives in the United States often rely on the ideas of "rural" and "urban" as distinct and diametrically opposed places in conflict.
While differences between rural and urban parts of the U.S. may be vast in many places, drawing those geographic distinctions is not always simple.
Despite their differences, rural and urban places are connected by the people who live and work among them.