Report Highlights Gains, Concerns For Appalachia

By Lorelei Goff

Appalachia improved in several key areas between 2012 and 2021, according to a June report published by the Appalachian Regional Commission, but the region also continues to struggle with inequities.

Among the region’s key gains are a 10% increase in median household income, a three-percentage-point increase in the number of individuals holding bachelor’s degrees, a nearly two-percentage-point decrease in unemployment, a two-percentage-point decrease in poverty and a more than 10% increase in the population.

Key concerns include lower broadband subscription rates than in non-Appalachian areas, with under 70% of households having subscriptions in 42 Appalachian counties. More households depend on federal food assistance in Appalachia than the rest of the country, with 20% of households in Central Appalachia receiving payments from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Appalachia also has an aging population, with nearly 20% of the population in 291 counties 65 or older and a three-percentage-point increase in the number of older residents with disabilities.

And although poverty rates have declined overall in the region, rates have stayed the same or increased in 77 Appalachian counties.

“While we are making significant progress for our families in Appalachia, it’s important we recognize there is work to be done,” said ARC 2023 States’ CoChair Gov. Andy Beshear in a press release.


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