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Kansas State University

States fight rural flight

Bill Longnecker grew up in rural Nebraska and, after trying life in Kansas City, Mo., and other urban areas, returned to his home state to start a jewelry store in Red Willow County, population 10,867. He loves it there. "All we need is more people," he said. Every year when high school graduates head off to college, locals present them with a mailbox imprinted with a map of the area. "We're hoping they'll find their way back," Longnecker said. Few do. Population loss is a long-term trend in much of rural America, and it's become more acute since 2010, according to a Stateline analysis. More than 1,300 rural counties in 46 states have lost population...