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Study shows those under 30 are leaving rural areas

By Stan Stelter

Bismarck, ND – Preliminary results from a new survey of more than 2,800 people in seven Northern Plains states focuses on the reasons why young people leave their home areas.

Jim Sylvester of the University of Montana at Missoula says the survey completed just two weeks ago confirmed that it is people under age 30 that are leaving.

"The reason they move is ... adverse climate, something a colleage of mine in Miles City called social Siberia."

On the other hand, Sylvester says, people stay primarily because of good jobs, family ties and having a nice place to live.

"It's going to be very hard to get people back. The only thing you can go is probably try to keep them there. Don't let them leave. By doing that, maybe you need to take care of that social Siberia, take care of the young people. The young people are the people that are going to move. Once they have kids and reach the age of 30, they're there. They're not going to go anywhere."

Sylvester spoke yesterday at the opening of the Great Plains Population Symposium project in Bismarck. It is focusing on national policy addressing population loss in the Great Plains region.