By Elizabeth Zach, RCAC staff writer

Rural working class Americans have had a hard time making ends meet in recent decades, but some sections of the country are doing better than others, including around the American West, Montana and New Mexico among them.

According to Evan Horwitz, who looked more closely at rural counties around the U.S. for FiveThirtyEight, among the 200 counties that had the strongest per capital income growth nationwide from 2000 to 2016, “More than 60 percent of those counties – 122 – are designated ‘completely rural’ by the U.S. Census Bureau. And the vast majority of those – 99 – lie in a vertical band of 10 states that stretch from North Dakota and Montana south to New Mexico and Texas.

“That’s five times what you’d expect from chance alone;” he observes, “rural counties in this region make up just 10 percent of all counties nationwide, but nearly half of the top 200 with the highest income growth.”

He notes, however discrepancies, such as white workers earning better than minorities and men out earning women.

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