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Access to supermarkets is limited for many residents in Native American tribal areas

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Native Americans living in tribal areas experience high rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease that may be due to poor diets. Prior studies cite limited access to supermarkets and other sources of affordable and nutritious foods as contributing factors to less healthful food choices by U.S. consumers. Low population density and limited incomes create disincentives for supermarkets to locate in many tribal areas. In 2010, 74.4 percent of the people in the 545 U.S. tribal areas examined in a recent ERS study lived more than 1 mile from a supermarket, compared with 41.2 percent of the U.S. population. Similarly, among low-income individuals, shares were higher for tribal populations than the national average. Regular access to a car can make traveling to supermarkets easier. However, the share of tribal households without access to a vehicle who lived more than 1 mile from a supermarket ranged from 57.2 to 74.6 percent, versus the 20.1-percent U.S. average. This chart appears in the ERS report,?Measuring Access to Healthful, Affordable Food in American Indian and Alaska Native Tribal Areas,?released on December 1, 2014.

Changing rural demographics contributed to rising child poverty

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Using data from the Census Bureau?s Current Population Survey and a modified official poverty measure, ERS researchers found that rural child poverty rose from 18.7 percent in 2003 to 22.1 percent in 2014. The bulk of this 3.4-percentage point increase?3.2 percentage points?was due to rising income inequality, and not a decline in average incomes. A portion of this increase in inequality, in turn, was driven by changing rural demographics. An increase in the number of children in the average rural family raised poverty by 0.6 percentage points, while declines in the number of adults of prime working age and in the share of household heads that were married raised rural child poverty by 0.9 and 0.7 points, respectively. A slight increase in the average age of the household head helped reduce rural child poverty by 0.5 percentage points. The most beneficial demographic change was a rise in the share of rural household heads with a college degree, which rose from 15.8 to 19.5 percent, helping to reduce child poverty by 0.9 percentage points. The net impact of all these demographic changes was to contribute 0.9 percentage points towards the increase in rural child poverty. This chart is based on a data table found in the May 2016 Amber Waves feature, ?Understanding Trends in Rural Child Poverty, 2003-14.?

Rural women, especially young women, are more likely than rural men to have college degrees

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The education of workers is closely linked with economic success. Workers with educations beyond high school degrees are more likely to be employed and earning higher wages than workers with high school degrees or less education. Educational attainment of both men and women in rural areas has grown over time, and rural women are more likely to have some college experience or hold associate or bachelor’s degrees than rural men. For example, the most recent (2014) American Community Survey shows that 63 percent of rural young women (age 25-34) had schooling beyond a high school diploma, compared with less than half (47 percent) of rural young men; nearly a quarter of rural young women held a bachelor’s degree or higher. The gender-education gap beyond a high school diploma for rural young adults has widened, from 11 percentage points in 2000 to 16 percentage points in 2014. This gap is more pronounced in rural areas than in the nation as a whole. This chart is based on the ERS Rural Employment & Education topic page.

Low-education counties are mostly rural and concentrated in the South and Southwest

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The proportion of adults lacking a high school diploma or equivalent declined in rural America (defined here as nonmetro counties), from 32 percent in 1990 to 15 percent in 2014. The proportion of rural adults with college degrees also increased from 12 to 19 percent during that time. Despite these overall gains, educational attainment varies widely across rural areas. ERS’s latest county typology classifies low-education counties as those where at least one of every five working-age adults (age 25-64) has not completed high school. In an average of data over 2008-12, ERS identified 467 low-education counties in the United States, 367 of which were rural. Eight out of 10 of all low-education counties are located in the South. Three-fourths of rural low-education counties also qualified as low-employment in the latest ERS county typology. Over 40 percent of rural low-education counties were both low-employment and persistently poor, reflecting the difficulty that adults without high school diplomas have in finding and retaining jobs that pay enough to place them above the poverty line. This map is part of the ERS data product on County Typology Codes, released December 2015.

Among age groups, children faced highest poverty rates in rural America in 2014

Friday, January 22, 2016

Poverty rates for rural children underwent the largest increase during the 2007-09 recession, rising from 21.9 percent in 2007 to 24.2 percent in 2009. (The poverty status of children depends on the income, size, and composition of their families.) Child poverty continued to increase at the start of the economic recovery and was 25.2 percent in 2014. Poverty for the rural working-age population also increased during the recession and climbed modestly in recovery. Conversely, the poverty rate for rural seniors declined during the recession and has changed little during the recovery. Rural children were also more likely to be deeply poor—in families with an income below half of the poverty level—than were other age groups. In 2014, 11.3 percent of rural children lived in deep poverty, compared with 7.8 percent of the rural working-age population. This chart is found in Rural America At A Glance 2015 Edition, November 2015.

Educational attainment rates were lower for rural minorities in 2014

Friday, January 15, 2016

Higher educational attainment is closely tied to economic well-being—through higher earnings, lower unemployment, and lower poverty. While educational attainment in rural (nonmetro) America has improved over time, rural areas still lag urban (metro) areas in educational attainment. Moreover, within rural areas, educational attainment varies across racial and ethnic categories. In general, minority populations within rural areas have lower average levels of educational attainment. About a quarter of adults age 25 and over in the rural Black and Native American/Alaskan Native populations, and 40 percent of rural Hispanics, had not completed high school or the equivalent in 2014. These shares are considerably higher than for rural Whites, with 13 percent lacking a high school diploma. Lower attainment levels for minorities may both reflect and contribute to high rates of poverty; poverty in child­hood is highly correlated with lower academic success and graduation rates, while lower educational attainment is strongly associated with lower earnings in adulthood. This chart is found in the ERS publication, Rural America At A Glance, 2015 Edition, November 2015.

Editor's Pick 2015, #1:<br>One in five rural counties had child poverty rates over 33 percent

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Child poverty rates varied considerably across nonmetropolitan (rural) counties according to 2009-13 county averages (data on poverty for all U.S. counties are available from the American Community Survey only for 5-year averages). According to the official poverty measure, one in five rural counties had child poverty rates over 33 percent. Child poverty has increased since the 2000 Census (which measured poverty in 1999) and the number of rural counties with child poverty rates of over 33 percent has more than doubled. Improving young adult education levels tended to lower child poverty rates over the period, but increases in single-parent households and economic recession were associated with rising child poverty. Metropolitan counties had average child poverty rates of 21 percent in 2009-13. This map appears in the July 2015 Amber Waves feature, Understanding the Geography of Growth in Rural Child Poverty.

Rural education levels improve, still lag urban areas

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

In 1960, 60 percent of the rural population ages 25 and older had not completed high school. By 2014—more than 50 years later—that proportion had dropped to 15 percent. Over the same period, the proportion of rural adults ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher increased from 5 percent to 19 percent but remained well below the proportion in urban areas (32 percent) in 2014. The proportion of rural adults with a college degree or more increased by 4 percentage points between 2000 and 2014 and the proportion without a high school degree or equivalent, such as a GED, declined by 9 percentage points. The gap between urban-rural college completion rates has increased, even for young adults, who are more likely to have completed high school than older cohorts. Between 2000 and 2014, the share of young adults age 25-34 (not shown in this chart) with bachelor’s degrees grew in urban areas from 29 to 35 percent. In rural areas, the college-educated proportion of young adults rose from 15 to 19 percent. This chart is found in the ERS publication, Rural America At A Glance, released November 30, 2015.

Disability and poverty rates among rural veterans have increased from 2008 to 2014

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

In 2008, more than 2.4 million—8.2 percent—of the rural working-age population (18 to 64 years old) were veterans. That number declined to 1.5 million (5.9 percent) in 2014. During that period, however, the share of working-age rural veterans with a disability increased (from 20.3 percent to 22.6 percent), as did their poverty rate (from 8.9 percent to 11.0 percent). The disabled are more likely to live in poverty, particularly when the disability is work limiting, and veterans are more likely to report a work-limiting disability than comparable nonveterans. Limited labor force participation and economic constraints often persist for persons with disabilities; however, vocational services and policy initiatives aim to support work among them. Disabled working-age veterans were less likely to be in poverty (18.8 percent) than their nonveteran counterparts (32.8 percent) in 2014. This chart is based on data found in the Atlas of Rural and Small Town America.

Nonmetro unemployment rates have declined, but remain highest for adults with the lowest levels of education

Friday, October 30, 2015

The nonmetro unemployment rate fell between 2010 and 2014 as the economy continued to recover from the national recession that began in late 2007. The likelihood of being unemployed was much higher for adults (ages 25 and older) at the lowest levels of educational attainment during the 2007-2014 period. Data from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey show that differences in unemployment rates between the least and most highly educated nonmetro adults nearly doubled over the 2007-2010 period. Since 2010, unemployment rates have fallen, especially for those without a high school diploma. In 2010, nearly 15 percent of adults without a high school diploma were unemployed, while in 2014, 9.6 percent of adults in this group were unemployed. Overall, unemployment rates declined across all levels of educational attainment for nonmetro adults, showing a gradual trend towards pre-recession levels. This chart is found on the ERS topic page on Rural Employment and Education, updated September 2015.

Nonmetro job growth accelerates in 2015, but is unevenly distributed

Friday, September 4, 2015

The number of rural (nonmetro) jobs rose by 239,000 (1.2 percent) between the second quarters of 2014 and 2015, more than double the rate of growth over the prior year. Rural job growth still lags behind the rate of growth in metro areas, which saw the number of jobs rise by 1.8 percent over this period. Moreover, while the number of jobs in urban areas now exceeds the peak levels recorded prior to the Great Recession in 2007, rural employment is still well below its pre-recession peak. Rural job growth was unevenly distributed; some 1311 rural counties saw no change or an increase in jobs (ranging up to 69 percent growth), but 665 experienced job declines, with the largest decline being 19 percent. Rural counties in several oil and gas-producing states, such as Texas, Kansas, and North Dakota, which had generally experienced job growth between 2013 and 2014, experienced declines in 2014-15. The vast majority (88 percent) of rural counties in the block of Southern States stretching from Arkansas to Georgia experienced job growth, whereas, in 2013-14, 71 percent of these rural counties had employment losses. This map updates one found in the ERS report, Rural America At a Glance, 2014 Edition.

One in five rural counties had child poverty rates over 33 percent

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Child poverty rates varied considerably across nonmetropolitan (rural) counties according to 2009-13 county averages (data on poverty for all U.S. counties are available from the American Community Survey only for 5-year averages). According to the official poverty measure, one in five rural counties had child poverty rates over 33 percent. Child poverty has increased since the 2000 Census (which measured poverty in 1999) and the number of rural counties with child poverty rates of over 33 percent has more than doubled. Improving young adult education levels tended to lower child poverty rates over the period, but increases in single-parent households and economic recession were associated with rising child poverty. Metropolitan counties had average child poverty rates of 21 percent in 2009-13. This map appears in the July 2015 Amber Waves feature, "Understanding the Geography of Growth in Rural Child Poverty."

Rural-urban poverty gap is widest among youngest Americans

Friday, May 1, 2015

An important indicator of the Nation’s long-term well-being is poverty among children; child poverty often has an impact that carries throughout a lifetime, particularly if the child lived in poverty at an early age. Like the overall poverty rate, nonmetro (rural) child poverty has been historically higher than metro (urban) child poverty, and increased to record-high levels in 2012. According to Census estimates, the poverty rate for children under 18 living in rural areas stood at 26.2 percent in 2013, more than four percentage points higher than the metro child poverty rate of 21.6 percent. In 2013, the nonmetro/metro difference in poverty rates was greatest for children under six years old (30.3 percent nonmetro and 23.9 percent metro). Child poverty is more sensitive to labor market conditions than overall poverty, as children depend on the earnings of their parents. Older members of the labor force, including empty nesters and retirees, are less affected by job downturns, and families with children need higher incomes to stay above the poverty line than singles or married couples without children. This chart is found in the ERS topic page on Rural Poverty & Well-being, updated April 2015.

Rural and urban unemployment rates follow similar trends

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Both urban (metro) and rural (nonmetro) unemployment rates have dropped since the highs reached at the end of the most recent recession. In 2007, the rural unemployment rate averaged 5.1 percent, compared to 4.5 percent in urban areas. As the recession unfolded, metro and nonmetro unemployment rates rose rapidly and converged, peaking at 10 percent in the first quarter of 2010. Since that time, the two unemployment rates have followed similar downward trends. The seasonally adjusted rural unemployment rate stood at 6.4 percent in the second quarter of 2014, while the urban rate fell to 6.2 percent. Until recently, the bulk of the decline in the rural unemployment rate is due to a reduction in the number of people seeking work, not an increase in the number of people working. This chart is found in the October 2014 Amber Waves feature, "Rural Employment in Recession and Recovery."

Rural veterans tended to have higher median household incomes than nonveterans in 2007-11

Friday, May 24, 2013

Perhaps because veterans tend to be older males, or because of the skills, experiences, and contacts acquired during military service, rural veterans had median incomes that were nearly 50 percent higher than rural nonveterans, based on 2007-11 data. Median incomes of veterans were at least twice those of nonveterans (income ratio of 1:2 or greater) in 79 rural counties, predominantly in the South and in high-poverty areas. Rural veteran income premiums tended to be high in counties dependent on public sector employment, whereas the incomes of rural veterans tended to be about average in manufacturing-dependent counties. There were also a handful of counties (54 or 2.7 percent of nonmetro counties) where rural veterans tended to earn less than nonveterans (income ratio less than 1:1). They were primarily farming-dependent counties where poverty rates tend to be low. This map is based on data found in the Atlas of Rural and Small Town America, on the ERS website.

A growing number of families receive the earned income tax credit

Friday, May 10, 2013

The earned income tax credit (EITC) was enacted in 1975 to reduce the burden of Social Security taxes on low-income workers and to encourage them to seek employment rather than welfare benefits. The amount of the credit depends upon the number of qualifying children in the household and the level of earned and adjusted gross income. As a refundable tax credit, the EITC results in lower tax liabilities for qualifying low-income households that owe Federal income taxes and cash payments to those owing no taxes. The EITC has expanded over the past two decades and represents an increasing share of total Federal support to low-income households. In 2009, the credit provided roughly $55 billion to over 25 million low-income workers and their families. Rural households have historically had lower incomes and higher poverty rates than urban households. As a result, a disproportionately large share of rural taxpayers benefit from the EITC. In 2008, 21.6 percent of rural taxpayers received EITC benefits, compared with 16.9 percent of urban taxpayers. This chart comes from the ERS report, The Potential Impact of Tax Reform on Farm Businesses and Rural Households, EIB-107, February 2013.

Slow economic recovery pushes nonmetro poverty slightly higher in 2011

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Nonmetro areas have had a higher rate of poverty than metro areas since the 1960s when poverty rates were first officially recorded. Over time, however, the difference between nonmetro and metro poverty rates has generally narrowed, falling from an average difference of 4.5 percentage points in the 1980s to a record low of 1.6 percentage points in 2010, as the metro poverty rate rose faster than the nonmetro rate over 2006-10. Because of the uneven economic recovery following the 2007-09 economic recession, nonmetro poverty rose slightly in 2011, to 17 percent, while the poverty rate fell slightly in metro areas. As a result, the nonmetro poverty rate is now 2.4 percentage points higher than the metro poverty rate. This chart is found in the Rural Poverty and Well-Being topic page on the ERS website, updated March 2013.

Medical benefits are largest source of government transfers in nonmetro and metro areas

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Medical benefits are the single largest transfer payment category in both nonmetro and metro areas. In 1978, medical benefits accounted for 18.9 percent of all nonmetro transfer payments (the second largest category) and by 2011 these had risen to 41.7 percent (the largest category) of all nonmetro transfer payments. Similarly, in metro areas, medical benefits increased from 22.7 percent of all transfer payments in 1978 to 42.1 percent of payments in 2011. Overall, between 1978 and 2011, nonmetro transfer payments for medical benefits increased 581.5 percent, compared with 498.9 percent in metro areas. Some of the increase in transfer payments for medical benefits can be attributed to legislation expanding health insurance to children in working families through Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). However, the rising cost of health care, which has far outpaced the overall rate of inflation, is a major source of this increase. This chart is from the Rural Poverty & Well-Being topic page on the ERS website, updated November 2012.

Nonmetro high poverty areas are regionally concentrated

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Nonmetro high-poverty areas—counties with a poverty rate of 20 percent or higher—tend to be clustered into groups of contiguous counties that reflect distinct regional concentrations. High levels of nonmetro poverty are pervasive in the South, particularly in the Cotton Belt, Southern Appalachia, the Rio Grande, and the Mississippi Delta. Poverty rates are typically highest at the cores of these high-poverty clusters and then taper off gradually toward the edges. There were 193 nonmetro counties newly defined as high poverty in 2006-10. Most of the new nonmetro high-poverty counties are adjacent to previously existing high-poverty clusters. Findings also reveal an emerging nonmetro high-poverty region in the Pacific Northwest and a more dispersed pattern of new high-poverty counties elsewhere in the West and the Midwest. This suggests that not only has the incidence of concentrated nonmetro poverty increased over the last decade but that it has also become more widespread. This map is found in the December 2012 Amber Waves magazine.

Transfer payments to residents in nonmetro areas outpace payments to metro residents

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Government transfer payments comprise a large share of personal income for both nonmetro and metro residents. In 2011, transfer payments to individuals accounted for 24.8 percent of total personal income in nonmetro areas and 16.3 percent in metro areas. Per capita in 2011, nonmetro residents received more government transfers than metro residents: $8,236 vs. $7,022. Since 1978, nonmetro per capita transfer payments (adjusted for inflation) have risen faster than payments in metro areas. Most of this increase comes from the rising cost of government programs that provide medical benefits, such as Medicare and Medicaid. Because nonmetro areas have an older population and a higher proportion of persons with disabilities than metro areas, nonmetro areas receive more transfer payments. Between 2010 and 2011, per capita transfer payments fell, primarily due to a decline in unemployment insurance compensation, which fell 25 percent in both metro and nonmetro areas as benefits expired. This chart is found in the Rural Poverty & Well-being topic page on the ERS website, updated November 2012.

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