Features, Findings, & Statistics

  • Feature

    Rural Manufacturing Survival and Its Role in the Rural Economy

    Manufacturing provides more jobs and higher earnings in rural areas than many other sectors. Manufacturing is also relatively more important to the rural than urban economy. However, U.S. manufacturing employment has been declining since the 1950s. A better understanding of the factors affecting the survival of rural manufacturing plants may help develop strategies to retain these jobs.
  • Finding

    Grassroots Innovation Widespread in Rural Areas and Concentrated in Manufacturing

    Innovation can contribute to dynamic and resilient local economies by introducing new goods, services, or ways of doing business that add value to benefit consumers. Research on rural innovation has largely focused on increases in agricultural productivity—leaving the potential contributions of the rural nonfarm economy only thinly studied.
  • Statistic

    Veterans Are Positioned To Contribute Economically to Rural Communities

    Veterans are a rapidly aging and increasingly diverse group disproportionally represented by rural Americans. Nearly 19 million veterans lived in the United States in 2015, about 3.4 million of them were located in rural areas. Examining data from the U.S. Census Bureau can reveal information about who they are, where they live, the type of work they do, and how they fare economically.
  • Finding

    Urban Areas Offer Higher Earnings for Workers With More Education

    Education is often closely linked with economic outcomes. The most recent data from the Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey show that workers with higher levels of education had higher median earnings, both in rural and urban areas. The data also show that jobs in urban areas are likely to pay more than in rural areas, especially for workers with higher levels of education.
  • Finding

    Increased Demand for U.S. Agricultural Exports Would Likely Lead to More U.S. Jobs

    A recent ERS study modeled the employment effects of a hypothetical 10-percent increase in foreign demand for U.S. agricultural exports.
  • Statistic

    Using the ERS County Economic Types To Explore Demographic and Economic Trends in Rural Areas

    ERS’s County Typology Codes allow for the analysis of recent rural demographic and economic trends across economic specializations.
  • Finding

    The Gulf Opportunity Zone Helped Affected Counties Recover Economically After Hurricane Katrina

    Holding other factors constant, such as assistance from traditional disaster relief programs, findings show significant differences in income and employment growth between counties that suffered relatively small losses from Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Opportunity Zone and similar counties outside of that zone.
  • Finding

    Five Years of Population Loss in Rural and Small-Town America May Be Ending

    Nonmetro population declined by just 4,000 from July 2014 to July 2015 after 4 years of population losses averaging 33,000 yearly. The 2014-15 improvement in nonmetro population change coincides with rural economic recovery and suggests that this first-ever period of overall population decline (from 2010 to 2015) may be ending.
  • Feature

    Understanding Trends in Rural Child Poverty, 2003-14

    The share of rural children living below the official poverty line rose from 20.1 percent in 2003 to 26.7 percent in 2012, before declining to 23.7 percent in 2014. The cause of the net increase from 2003 to 2014 was not primarily a reduction in average family incomes in rural areas; rather, it was an increase in income inequality between low-income and middle-income rural families.
  • Statistic

    Updated ERS County Economic Types Show a Changing Rural Landscape

    The ERS county economic typology codes are a classification system for researchers and policy analysts that provide a tool to analyze and characterize the economic base of U.S. counties. These economic typologies are a part of a larger set of county classifications that include additional indicators of policy-relevant themes, such as counties with low employment and persistent poverty.
  • Finding

    Population Loss in Nonmetro Counties Continues

    Nonmetro areas in some parts of the country have experienced population loss for decades. However, 2010-14 marks the first period with an estimated population loss for nonmetro America as a whole. Opportunities for population growth and economic expansion vary widely from one nonmetro county to the next, and new regional patterns of growth and decline have emerged in recent years.
  • Statistic

    Foundation Giving to Rural Areas in the United States Is Disproportionately Low

    ERS estimates that the value of U.S. foundation grants to benefit rural areas was 6-7 percent of total domestic grants in 2010.
  • Feature

    Why Some Return Home to Rural America and Why It Matters

    Continued population loss in rural communities is caused as much by low in-migration as by high out-migration; in remote rural communities lacking natural amenities, return migrants make up a large share of total in-migration. Return migrants potentially play a critical role in rural areas in slowing population loss, rejuvenating the population base, and generating jobs.
  • Feature

    Understanding the Geography of Growth in Rural Child Poverty

    Over 1 in 4 rural children are living in families that are poor. Counties with high vulnerability to child poverty, those with both low young adult education levels and high proportions of children in single-parent families, were generally the most hard-hit by the recession of the past decade and experienced substantial increases in their already high child poverty rates.
  • Finding

    Rural Areas Lag Urban Areas in College Completion

    Despite gains in high school completion rates, rural (nonmetropolitan) areas continue to lag urban (metropolitan) areas in post-high school educational attainment.
  • Feature

    Rural Employment in Recession and Recovery

    Total employment loss rates during 2007-09 were slightly larger in rural (nonmetro) than urban (metro) counties and began a year earlier. Rural employment growth has lagged behind urban areas since the first half of 2011. About two-fifths of the rural employment growth deficit is due to rural counties having a lower population growth trend and an older, less well-educated workforce.
  • Finding

    Agritourism Farms Are More Diverse Than Other U.S. Farms

    Agritourism involves attracting paying visitors to farms by offering farm tours, harvest festivals, hospitality services (such as bed and breakfast), petting zoos, and other attractions. Farms that provide agritourism services also typically produce agricultural commodities and may provide a variety of other goods and services.
  • Statistic

    What Happened to the “'Creative Class' Job Growth Engine” During the Recession and Recovery?

    The severity of the 2007/09 economic recession and the subsequent slow rural recovery has heightened interest in the concept of economic resilience: the ability of a local economy to bounce back from declines in employment, earnings, and output. One human capital resource that may facilitate this flexibility is the share of local employment in the “creative class.”
  • Finding

    Natural Gas Extraction and Local Economies—No Evidence of a “Natural Resource Curse”

    In the 2000s, natural gas production from shale formations increased tenfold in the United States, and growth in production has continued through 2013. Opponents of hydraulic fracturing cite environmental concerns such as groundwater contamination and air pollution. Proponents often highlight the benefit of natural gas extraction to local and state economies.
  • 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.