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Rural Economy & Population

  • Statistic

    Poverty and Deep Poverty Increasing in Rural America

    Examining poverty over time shows that the recent economic recession has resulted in the highest rural poverty rates since the mid-1980s, another period when an economic recession and slow rural recovery resulted in rising rural poverty rates. The 2007-2009 recession and subsequent slow recovery have resulted in substantial increases in poverty, especially among children.
  • Statistic

    Onshore Oil and Gas Development in the Lower 48 States: Introducing a County-Level Database of Production for 2000-2011

    Until now, there has been no publicly available nationwide data on oil and gas production at the county level. County-level data from oil and/or natural gas producing States were compiled on a State-by-State basis. Most States have production statistics available by field, county, or well, and these data were compiled at the county level to create a database of county-level production, 2000-11.
  • Feature

    Energy Development’s Impacts on Rural Employment Growth

    Research indicates that the expansion of emerging energy industries—such as shale gas, wind power, and ethanol production—during the last decade created jobs in rural economies, but the employment impacts varied widely based on the industry.
  • Finding

    Effects of Large-Scale Hog Production on Local Labor Markets

    For counties with large-scale hog operations, the average change in the number of hogs at these operations over each 5-year-period between 1992 and 2007 was 8,473. Each additional 1,000 hogs at large-scale hog facilities in a county generated 0.96 net jobs in the county, with gains in some sectors and losses in others.
  • Finding

    Rural Internet at a Crossroads

    Ninety-five percent of all U.S. households have access to broadband Internet service. The 5 percent of households that do not have access largely reside in rural areas. About 30 percent of rural households with access still do not have broadband meeting current technology standards, although some of these households have broadband available at slower speeds.
  • Statistic

    Nonmetro Areas as a Whole Experience First Period of Population Loss

    U.S. nonmetro counties as a whole have gained population every year for which county population estimates are available--until recently. Between April 2010 and July 2012, nonmetro counties declined in total population by 44,000, a -0.09-percent drop according to the most recent annual county population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Feature

    The Importance of Farmer-Owned Nonfarm Businesses in the Rural Economy

    Farm households that also operate nonfarm businesses have accounted for roughly 18 percent of U.S. farm households since the 1990s. In 2007, farmer-owned nonfarm businesses employed over 800,000 nonfarm workers and contributed an estimated $55 billion to their local communities’ gross county product.
  • Finding

    Effects of U.S. Wind Power Development on County-Level Income and Employment

    A recent study measured the effects of wind power development on county-level income and employment in 12 States of the Great Plains and Rocky Mountain regions. Findings reveal an aggregate increase in county-level personal income and employment of approximately $11,000 and 0.5 jobs per megawatt of wind power capacity installed over the study period 2000 to 2008.
  • Feature

    The Concentration of Poverty Is a Growing Rural Problem

    Concentrated poverty has increased in the U.S. over the last decade, particularly in nonmetropolitan areas and in areas with distinct racial/ethnic minority populations. Deteriorating economic conditions, namely rising unemployment, have driven the increase in nonmetro concentrated poverty.
  • Statistic

    Mapping Frontier and Remote Areas in the U.S.

    One need for delineating remote “frontier” areas comes from recent legislative mandates to improve access to public services in such areas. ERS’s newly developed Frontier and Remote (FAR) area codes are both geographically detailed and adjustable within reasonable ranges to facilitate their use in diverse research and policy contexts.
  • Statistic

    In the Long Run: Population Trends in Nonmetro America Vary Considerably by Age and County Type

    For many decades, most U.S. nonmetro counties experienced significant population loss among young adults, especially in the years immediately following high school graduation.
  • Finding

    Return Migrants Overcome Employment Barriers in Small Towns

    Efforts to attract and assist return migrants can reap benefits for rural communities, especially in geographically isolated areas that otherwise tend to attract few new migrants. However, for returnees to overcome employment challenges in these communities often requires a combination of sacrifice, risk taking, creativity, and patience.
  • Feature

    Creating Rural Wealth: A New Lens for Rural Development Efforts

    Creating and maintaining a broad portfolio of wealth may be central to sustainable rural prosperity. However, the impacts that rural development strategies have on wealth and the impacts of existing wealth on those strategies are generally not well understood.
  • Finding

    Potential Rural Implications of Federal Budget Pressures

    In the coming years, anticipated deficit reduction legislation could affect rural America. It is too early to know with any certainty which Federal programs will be affected, or by how much, but the current composition of rural Federal funding receipts can reveal insights about rural America's potential vulnerability to budget cuts.
  • Statistic

    On the Map: Increases in U.S. Poverty Rate Were Highest in the Manufacturing Areas of the Midwest and South

    Increases in the poverty rate between 2000 and 2006-10 were often highest in regions that suffered the largest increases in unemployment rates during the 2007-09 recession, such as the Great Lakes and Southern Highland regions.
  • Feature

    Per Capita Income Grows Faster in Delta Regional Authority Counties

    Growth in per capita income averaged about $600 higher in DRA-funded nonmetro counties in 2002-07 than in similarly distressed counties outside the region, mainly due to increased health and social services sector earnings and increased medical transfer payments.
  • Finding

    Hispanics Contribute to Increasing Diversity in Rural America

    During a decade of diminished population growth across rural and small-town America, Hispanic population growth and geographic dispersion during 2000-2010 was a strong driver of demographic change, as it has been for at least two decades.
  • Finding

    Recession in 2007-09 Widened and Deepened Nonmetro Poverty

    The 2007-09 recession was particularly severe in the depth of poverty it engendered. Relative to previous recessions, those residing in nonmetro areas, particularly children, were among the most affected by deepening poverty.
  • Statistic

    Mapping Population and Economic Trends in Rural and Small-Town America

    The ERS Atlas of Rural and Small-Town America helps shed light on the overall scope and diversity of demographic, economic, and social trends across the United States by providing county-level mapping of over 60 statistical indicators.
  • Statistic

    On the Map: Location of Agritourism Farms Influenced by Amenities

    The share of county farms engaged in agritourism is high in the West, where agricultural lands tend to have lower yields due to low rainfall and mountainous terrain.
  • Statistic

    Research Areas

    Selected statistics on agriculture and trade, diet and health, natural resources, and rural America
  • Feature

    The Two Faces of Rural Population Loss Through Outmigration

    Nearly half of the Nation’s nonmetropolitan counties lost population through net outmigration between 1988 and 2008, but the underlying causes and potential policy solutions vary widely.
  • Statistic

    Research Areas

    Research area charts from the September 2012 issue of Amber Waves
  • Finding

    Rural Populations Have Higher Rates of Chronic Disease

    Rural residents have higher rates of mortality, chronic disease, and disability than their urban counterparts. Special challenges that may impair the health status of rural residents include their lower socioeconomic status, higher average age, and more limited access to affordable, nearby, high-quality health care than urban residents.
  • Finding

    Half of Farm Expenditures Are Spent Locally

    About half of all farm input and equipment expenditures were made locally in 2004. But over 40 percent of all U.S. farms are located in metro areas so that farm business expenditures may have relatively minor impacts on nearby urban communities and are unlikely to flow to more distant rural suppliers.
  • Statistic

    Indicators

    Selected statistics on agriculture and trade, diet and health, natural resources, and rural America.
  • Feature

    Economic Recovery: Lessons Learned From Previous Recessions

    The rates of employment loss and unemployment in the recent recession are about the same in metro and nonmetro areas, but based on previous recessions, nonmetro employment may recover more slowly. As in past recessions, manufacturing-dependent nonmetro counties felt the effects of the recessions sooner than other nonmetro areas. Unemployment rates continue to be lowest for the college-educated in both nonmetro and metro areas.
  • Finding

    Changing the Definition of a “Farm” Can Affect Federal Funding

    The Federal Government's definition of a farm affects farm statistics and influences the design and delivery of Federal farm programs. The definition also has implications for States because each State’s share of the national farm population is used to help allocate some Federal funding.
  • Feature

    Broadband Internet Service Helping Create a Rural Digital Economy

    Investment in rural broadband Internet access seems to lead to a more competitive rural economy and rural economic growth, helping create a rural digital economy. A comparison of the economic growth of counties with broadband access in 2000 with that of otherwise similar counties without broadband shows that broadband availability helped spur the formation of new businesses and increased the growth of existing firms.
  • Statistic

    Indicators- Amber Waves - June 2009

    Selected statistics on agriculture and trade, diet and health, natural resources, and rural America from June 2009.
  • Statistic

    Research Areas

    Research area charts from the September 2008 issue of Amber Waves.
  • Statistic

    Research Areas

    Research area charts from the June 2008 issue of Amber Waves.
  • Feature

    Defining the “Rural” in Rural America

    The use of different definitions of rural by Federal agencies reflects the multidimensional qualities of rural America.
  • Statistic

    Indicators

    Indicators charts from the June 2008 issue of Amber Waves
  • Statistic

    Research Areas

    Research area charts from the April 2008 issue of Amber Waves.
  • Statistic

    Indicators

    Indicators tables from the April 2008 issue of Amber Waves.
  • Finding

    Agritourism Offers Opportunities For Farm Operators

    Farm-based recreation provides an important niche market for farmers, but limited empirical information is available on the topic. A recent ERS study found that both farm-based and place-based factors are associated with farm-to-farm variation in agritourism, as well as the amount of income farmers earn from operating a farm-based recreation business.
  • Statistic

    Research Areas

    Research area charts from the February 2008 issue of Amber Waves.
  • Feature

    Education's Role in the Metro-Nonmetro Earnings Divide

    Average earnings are lower in nonmetro areas than in metro areas, even after accounting for differences in the individual characteristics of nonmetro earners. The nonmetro-metro earnings gap is greater for workers with more education and more experience. For nonmetro households, lower earnings may be offset by factors difficult to measure, such as lower living costs or the value of rural amenities.
  • Statistic

    Indicators, Research Areas

    Research area charts from the September 2007 issue of Amber Waves.
  • Statistic

    On The Map

    In many Farm Belt counties, losses in farm-related jobs have not been offset by new types of jobs, resulting in a well-known trend of population loss. What is less known is that nearly 500 nonmetro counties with recent population outmigration also have more deaths than births-known as natural decline-and thus are losing people from two sources. Natural decline stems both from dwindling family size and prolonged outmigration of young adults, resulting in high average age. This phenomenon has spread somewhat into the lower South and is now common in parts of Appalachia, where it also affects many diminished metro industrial areas. The condition, which did not arise overnight, poses difficult development challenges.
  • Statistic

    Indicators

    Indicators tables from the September 2007 issue of Amber Waves.
  • Feature

    Meat-Processing Firms Attract Hispanic Workers to Rural America

    Hispanics increasingly meet labor demand arising from industry restructuring.