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Social Security cuts: Greatest impact on rural MN

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ST. PAUL - America's small towns will be hit hardest by any cuts in Social Security, according to a new analysis by the rural news website the Daily Yonder.

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Rural areas have a higher percentage of people who receive those benefits, the review says. Economist Mark Partridge at Ohio State University says the loss may appear small on an individual basis, but its reach would be broad.

"I don't want to necessarily say it would devastate communities, but I think small businesses, restaurants, grocery stores, hardware stores - all of these are going to feel somewhat of an impact if a lot of their steady customers, the ones who spend their money locally, have less."

In Minnesota's metropolitan counties, about 14 percent of the population receives Social Security benefits, while in rural counties that figure jumps to more than 23 percent. The so-called congressional super-committee is expected to make its recommendations for spending cuts later this month, which might include changes to the Social Security program.

Rural areas have a higher percentage of Social Security recipients because young people tend to gravitate toward cities, says Partridge, adding that more people in rural areas receive disability payments.

"It relates to the kinds of industries people work in. Industries like logging, mining or agriculture tend to be more dangerous, and thus you're more likely to draw things such as disability."

In Minnesota specifically, Partridge says, a lot of rural towns and regions would be affected, especially to the west.

"As you get into more agricultural communities, which is the case in western Minnesota, as we get toward the Dakotas, those are the ones that would be more hit by these entitlement programs, especially like Social Security and ones that tend to be more age-driven."

More information is online at DailyYonder.com. Details by county and state are at msstate.edu.

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