In 2015, annual earnings in rural areas were 15 percent lower than earnings in urban areas
Earnings generally differ between rural and urban areas, and by industry. In 2015, overall annual earnings were 15 percent lower in rural areas. The gap between rural and urban earnings was largest in the producer service sector—which includes industries such as finance, insurance, and real estate; information; and professional, administrative, and related services. For example, rural information workers earned about $20,000 less than their urban counterparts in 2015. Producer service firms in urban areas employ more professional and managerial workers, contributing to the earnings premium in urban areas. The rural-urban earnings gap was also relatively large in manufacturing, where rural areas have long been associated with lower skill, less technically advanced operations. Still, median earnings in rural manufacturing are above those for any other rural sector except for mining. The relatively high earnings in manufacturing jobs explain the continued emphasis that many rural stakeholders place on attracting or retaining these jobs. This chart appears in the ERS report Rural America at a Glance, 2016 Edition, released November 2016.