CARI: Center for Applied Rural Innovation

 

Date of this Version

September 2006

Comments

Published by the Center for Applied Rural Innovation, University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Copyright © 2006 by R. Vogt, R. Cantrell, B. Johnson, and A. Tomkins.

Abstract

Many rural communities have experienced population growth during the past decade. Communities can continue to attract new residents and maintain their current population by enhancing and promoting their amenities and services. How do rural Nebraskans feel about their community? Are they satisfied with the services provided? Are they planning to move from their community next year?

This report details 2,482 responses to the 2006 Nebraska Rural Poll, the eleventh annual effort to understand rural Nebraskans’ perceptions. Respondents were asked a series of questions about their community. Trends for some of these questions are examined by comparing data from the ten previous polls to this year’s results. For all questions, comparisons are made among different respondent subgroups, that is, comparisons by age, occupation, region, etc. Based on these analyses, some key findings emerged:

During the past three years, the proportion of rural Nebraskans that have viewed positive change in their communities has increased. Following a seven year period of general decline, the proportion saying their community has changed for the better increased from 22 percent in 2003 (the lowest point over the eleven year period) to 32 percent this year. (page 2)

• By many different measures, rural Nebraskans are positive about their community.

• Many rural Nebraskans rate their community favorably on its social dimensions. Many rural Nebraskans rate their communities as friendly (73%), trusting (62%) and supportive (65%). (page 7)

• Many rural Nebraskans express positive sentiments about their community. Over two-thirds (69%) agree with the statement that “my community is very special to me.” And approximately two-thirds agree with the statement that “I feel I can really be myself in my community.” (page 10)

• Over one-half of rural Nebraskans say it would be difficult to leave their community. Fifty-two percent say it would be difficult for their household to leave their community. Less than one-third (31%) indicate it would be easy for their household to leave their community and 17 percent gave a neutral response. (page 11)

While residents living in or near larger communities are more likely to view positive change in their communities, residents of smaller communities are more likely to rate their community favorably on its social dimensions and to have positive sentiments about their community.

• Residents living in or near larger communities are more likely than residents of smaller communities to say their community has changed for the better during the past year. Thirty-nine percent of persons living in or near communities with populations of 10,000 or more believe their community has changed for the better, compared to 24 percent of persons living in or near communities with less than 500 people. (page 5)

• Residents living in or near the smallest communities are more likely than persons living in or near larger communities to rate their community as friendly, trusting and supportive. Approximately 67 percent of persons living in or near communities with populations under 5,000 say their community is trusting, compared to 55 percent of persons living in or near communities with populations of 10,000 or more. (page 7)

• Persons living in or near smaller communities are more likely than persons living in or near larger communities to express positive sentiments about their community. Forty-six percent of persons living in or near communities with less than 500 people agree with the statement that no other place can compare to my community. In comparison, approximately 27 percent of persons living in or near communities with populations of 5,000 or more agree with this statement. (page 10)

Except for a few services that are largely unavailable in rural communities, rural Nebraskans are generally satisfied with basic community services and amenities. At least three fourths of rural Nebraskans are satisfied with the following services or amenities: fire protection (88%), emergency care services (76%), parks and recreation (76%), and library services (75%). On the other hand, at least one-third of rural Nebraskans are dissatisfied with the entertainment, retail shopping, local government and restaurants in their community. (page 7)

Long-term residents are more likely than newcomers to the community to have positive feelings about their community.

• Long-term residents are more likely than newcomers to the community to express positive sentiments about their community. As an example, 71 percent of persons living in their community for more than five years agree with the statement that my community is very special to me, compared to 51 percent of persons living in the community for five years or less. (page 11)

• Long term residents are more likely than newcomers to say it would be difficult to leave their community. Fifty-four percent of persons who have lived in their community for more than five years say it would be difficult to leave their community, compared to 35 percent of persons living in the community for five years or less.

Share

COinS