Think the rural heartland is the struggling core of modern America? Actually, America’s middle has been outperforming the coasts for decades. And while Trump’s ascendance has shined a spotlight on the plight of white men left behind by a changing economy, they still enjoy vast advantages over blue-collar black and female workers.
If you gather all of rural America into one homogeneous blob, the story looks bleak indeed, with the population shrinking as job growth lags. But this rural vs. the rest approach muddies the picture more than it reveals — because the experiences of rural areas vary widely across the country.