December 30, 2003
Rural Illinois is experiencing greater and greater declines in its well-being, growing barriers to economic viability and increasing disadvantage for economic and human development. 74 of Illinois' 102 counties are rural, non-metropolitan counties. Almost half of these rural counties have poverty rates higher than the state rate. **Limited job opportunity, limited access to health services, inadequate housing options, and declining populations perpetuate this rural poverty. This decline in regional development and growth is clearly linked to poverty populations facing poverty of housing, poverty of education, poverty of health, and poverty of opportunity. **This report examines population, economic, and basic needs issues in regions of Illinois, as defined by the Bureau of Tourism. These regions represent large areas of common demographic, economic, and geographic characteristics. Information on the South and Southwest regions of the state is highlighted, as they are disproportionately impacted by poverty. Data for each county in the state are included in the appendices.