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  • Understanding the Geography of Growth in Rural Child Poverty

    Amber Waves, July 06, 2015

    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.

  • Impacts of Higher Energy Prices on Agriculture and Rural Economies

    ERR-123, August 18, 2011

    ERS looks at direct and indirect impacts of higher energy prices on the agricultural and rural sectors, with scenarios developed for specific energy price changes.

  • The Two Faces of Rural Population Loss Through Outmigration

    Amber Waves, December 01, 2010

    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.

  • Nonmetropolitan Outmigration Counties: Some Are Poor, Many Are Prosperous

    ERR-107, November 12, 2010

    Over a third of U.S. nonmetropolitan counties lost at least 10 percent of their population through net outmigration during the past two decades. ERS compares characteristics of such counties with other nonmetro counties.

  • Scenic Landscapes Enhance Rural Growth

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2009

    Where landscapes are attractive, rural location has little bearing on county population change or housing values, but where landscapes are less appealing, the more rural and remote a county, the less population growth and the lower the value of houses.

  • The Creative Class: A Key to Rural Growth

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2007

    The creative class thesis-that towns need to attract engineers, architects, artists, and people in other creative occupations to compete in today's economy-may be particularly relevant to rural communities, which tend to lose much of their talent when young adults leave for college, the Armed Forces, or city lights. The creative class lives mostly in urban settings, but is also found in rural areas with mountains, lakes, and other rural amenities. Nonmetro counties, with higher proportions of people in creative class occupations tended to have higher rates of patent formation and manufacturing technology adoption in the 1990s-and higher rates of job growth in 1990-2004.

  • Farmland Retirement's Impact on Rural Growth

    Amber Waves, July 01, 2006

    This article addresses an unintended consequences of high levels of enrollment in the CRP, that of farmland retirement's impact of rural growth. To examine this issue, this article examines the local socioeconomic changes that accompanied CRP enrollment in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and discusses ERS analysis of the potential employment and output changes if all land currently enrolled in the program could be put to other uses, given the current distribution of land, prevailing commodity market conditions, and public policies.

  • Agriculture and Rural Communities Are Resilient to High Energy Costs

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2006

    Higher energy costs have led agricultural producers to substitute more expensive fuels with less expensive fuels, shift to less energy-intensive crops, and employ energy-conserving production practices where possible. Energy price increases will have the biggest impact on farmers where energy represents a significant share of operating costs. Rural communities face somewhat different issues with increases in petroleum and natural gas costs. As the cost of producing goods and services rises, so will household costs for transportation and home heating. Because of higher transportation expenses, rural communities may see changes in settlement patterns, especially in more remote rural areas.

  • Behind the Data

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2005

    Indicators: Behind the Data - April 2005

  • Farm Programs, Natural Amenities, and Rural Development

    Amber Waves, February 01, 2005

    Do farm program payments boost the vitality of rural communities? ERS research finds that natural amenities - temperate climate, a mix of forest and open space, lakes - are highly correlated with population and employment growth, and these amenities are relatively scarce in agricultural areas with substantial farm program payments.

  • Farmland Retirement's Impact on Rural Growth

    Amber Waves, November 01, 2004

    The Feature "Farmland Retirement's Impact on Rural Growth" addresses an unintended consequences of high levels of enrollment in the CRP, that of farmland retirement's impact of rural growth. To examine this issue, this article examines the local socioeconomic changes that accompanied CRP enrollment in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and discusses ERS analysis of the potential employment and output changes if all land currently enrolled in the program could be put to other uses, given the current distribution of land, prevailing commodity market conditions, and public policies.

  • The Conservation Reserve Program: Economic Implications for Rural America

    AER-834, October 08, 2004

    This report estimates the impact that high levels of enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) have had on economic trends in rural counties since the program's inception in 1985 until today. The results of a growth model and quasi-experimental control group analysis indicate no discernible impact by the CRP on aggregate county population trends. Aggregate employment growth may have slowed in some high-CRP counties, but only temporarily. High levels of CRP enrollment appear to have affected farm-related businesses over the long run, but growth in the number of other nonfarm businesses moderated CRP's impact on total employment. If CRP contracts had ended in 2001, simulation models suggest that roughly 51 percent of CRP land would have returned to crop production, and that spending on outdoor recreation would decrease by as much as $300 million per year in rural areas. The resulting impacts on employment and income vary widely among regions having similar CRP enrollments, depending upon local economic conditions.

  • One in Five Rural Counties Depends on Farming

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2004

    Farmer bankruptcies historically have been controversial because they are thought to indicate changes in the economic well being and structure of the rural economy. Farmer bankruptcies, farm numbers, and related issues are explored using available data since the beginning of modern bankruptcy legislation over a century ago. The link between farmer bankruptcies and changes in farm numbers is tenuous. Bankruptcies are subsumed and overwhelmed by larger shifts induced by a complex range of factors.

  • Rural America: Opportunities and Challenges

    Amber Waves, February 03, 2003

    At the beginning of the 21st century, some rural areas have shared in the economic progress of the Nation, while others have not. The opportunities and challenges facing rural America are as varied as rural America itself.

  • The Roots of Rural Population Loss

    Amber Waves, February 03, 2003

    Over half of the U.S. counties where farming accounted for at least 20 percent of earnings in 1987-89 had fewer residents in 2000 than in 1990. The 565 farming-dependent counties represent about a quarter of all rural counties, but they make up nearly two-thirds of the counties with population losses of over 5 percent in 1990-2000.

  • Natural Amenities Drive Rural Population Change

    AER-781, October 01, 1999

    Climate, topography, and water area are highly related to rural county population change over the past 25 years. A natural amenities index, derived and discussed here, captures much of this relationship. Average 1970-96 population change in nonmetropolitan counties was 1 percent among counties low on the natural amenities index and 120 percent among counties high on the index. Most retirement counties and recreation counties score in the top quarter of the amenities index. Employment change is also highly related to natural amenities, although more so over the past 25 years than in the current decade. The importance of particular amenities varies by region. In the Midwest, for example, people are drawn to lakes for recreation and retirement, while people are attracted to the West for its varied topography.

  • Rural Competitiveness: Results of the 1996 Rural Manufacturing Survey

    AER-776, March 01, 1999

    Establishments in metropolitan and nonmetropolitan locations are surprisingly similar in their adoption of new technologies, worker skill requirements, use of government programs and technical assistance, exports, and sources of financing, according to the results of a nationwide survey of 3,909 manufacturing businesses. The most widespread concern of both metro and nonmetro businesses appears to be with quality of labor. Quality of local labor is the most frequently cited problem associated with nonmetro business locations. Access to credit, transportation, and telecommunications infrastructure is a problem of secondary importance for both metro and nonmetro respondents. Rural communities face a considerable challenge in supplying workers with needed skills. The fastest-growing skill requirements--computer, interpersonal/teamwork, and problem-solving skills--are not central to traditional academic instruction.

  • Issues in Rural Manufacturing: Results of the ERS Rural Manufacturing Survey

    AIB-736, October 01, 1998

    About the Survey The ERS Rural Manufacturing Survey is a nationwide study of local factors affecting the ability of manufacturers to compete in today's increasingly international economy. Telephone interviews were conducted with 2,844 rural and 1,065 urban establishments with 10 or more employees. Questions focused on technology adoption, worker skills and training, access to outside expertise, sources of capital for expansion and modernization, and government program participation. The survey is unique in the breadth of its concerns, its focus on local relations, and the size of its rural sample. The survey was designed by ERS with input from representatives of industry and the academic research community. The Social and Economic Sciences Research Center at Washington State University conducted the actual survey. The overall response rate for the survey was 69 percent. About the Series The survey results are being published in a series of eight-page issue briefs, written under the premise that awareness and understanding of the problems facing manufacturers will improve both public and private decisionmaking. While the reports may be read separately, each builds on the others so that the entire series should provide a comprehensive view of rural manufacturers and their problems and concerns.