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Rural Pennsylvanians say high living costs are their biggest issue

Red barn in a field
Matt Slocum
A field of corn on a farm, Wednesday, July 11, 2018, Lancaster County, Pa.

The high cost of living is the biggest problem for rural voters, according to a new national survey commissioned by Save the Children Action Network.

Rural voters said the biggest problems were gas prices, general inflation and food prices. Three-quarters said they were changing how or what food they buy.

Survey respondents also said they worry about the high cost of taking care of kids. More than three out of four parents said they're worried about affording enough food for themselves and their families in the next year. More than half said the pandemic made it harder to find high-quality, affordable childcare.

Kyle Kopko is the executive director of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania. He said he has heard the same concerns from rural Pennsylvanians, including at a recent legislative hearing in Wellsboro.

"We've heard this for months now, actually," Kopko said. "We got to talk with a lot of local residents in that area, and that was one thing that was top of mind for them. That yes, they had seen some pay increases, but at the same time, the cost of groceries and gas seemed to outpace their wage increases."

Kopko said the Pennsylvania General Assembly is looking into solutions, including a bill to keep the gas tax down. He said this won't solve the overall issue, but every little bit can help.

Katie Knol is a WPSU radio news intern for fall 2022.