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  • Baby Boom Migration Tilts Toward Rural America

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2009

    If baby boomers follow migration patterns similar to those of their predecessors, the rural population age 55-75 will increase by 30 percent between 2010 and 2020. Local economic development strategies aimed at attracting more jobs will likely have little effect on the migration decisions of baby boomers searching for a better quality of life.

  • Baby Boom Migration and Its Impact on Rural America

    ERR-79, August 10, 2009

    If baby boomers follow past migration patterns, the nonmetro population age 55-75 will increase by 30 percent between now and 2020, with some rural communities affected more than others.

  • Creating Rural Wealth: A New Lens for Rural Development Efforts

    Amber Waves, September 20, 2012

    Rural development efforts that create and maintain a broad portfolio of wealth may be central to sustainable rural prosperity.

  • Development at the Urban Fringe and Beyond: Impacts on Agriculture and Rural Land

    AER-803, June 30, 2001

    Land development in the United States is following two routes: expansion of urban areas and large-lot development (greater than 1 acre per house) in rural areas. Urban expansion claimed more than 1 million acres per year between 1960 and 1990, yet is not seen as a threat to most farming, although it may reduce production of some high-value or specialty crops. The consequences of continued large-lot development may be less sanguine, since it consumes much more land per unit of housing than the typical suburb. Controlling growth and planning for it are the domains of State and local governments. The Federal Government may be able to help them in such areas as building capacity to plan and control growth, providing financial incentives for channeling growth in desirable directions, or coordinating local, regional, and State efforts.

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

    Amber Waves, February 21, 2013

    ERS, in collaboration with the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, recently completed a study of 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.

  • Energy Development’s Impacts on Rural Employment Growth

    Amber Waves, December 16, 2013

    Energy Development’s Impacts on Rural Employment Growth.

  • Factors Affecting Former Residents' Returning to Rural Communities

    ERR-185, May 21, 2015

    The desire to raise children back home was among the most frequently cited reasons for returning to live in relatively remote rural areas. Most nonreturnees who considered returning cited limited career opportunities as the primary barrier.

  • 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.

  • Farm-Based Recreation: A Statistical Profile

    ERR-53, December 31, 2007

    Farm-based recreation provides an important niche market for farmers, but limited empirical information is available on the topic. Access to two USDA databases, the 2004 Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) and the 2000 National Survey on Recreation and the Environment, provided researchers with a deeper understanding of who operates farm-based recreation enterprises, such as hunting and fishing operations, horseback riding businesses, on-farm rodeos, and petting zoos. Regression analysis identified the importance of various farmer and farm characteristics, as well as local and regional factors associated with farmer operation of, and income derived from, farm-based recreation.

  • Farmland Protection: The Role of Public Preferences for Rural Amenities

    AER-815, April 28, 2005

    Investigates the relative importance of preserving different amenities conserved by farmland protection programs. Examines farmland protection program enabling legislation in the 48 contiguous States, and implementation of these programs in five Northeastern States.

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

    Amber Waves, August 03, 2015

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

  • Major Uses of Land in the United States, 2002

    EIB-14, May 31, 2006

    This publication presents the results of the latest (2002) inventory of U.S. major land uses, drawing on data from the Census, public land management and conservation agencies, and other sources. The data are synthesized by State to calculate the use of several broad classes and subclasses of agricultural and nonagricultural land over time. The United States has a total land area of nearly 2.3 billion acres. Major uses in 2002 were forest-use land, 651 million acres (28.8 percent); grassland pasture and range land, 587 million acres (25.9 percent); cropland, 442 million acres (19.5 percent); special uses (primarily parks and wildlife areas), 297 million acres (13.1 percent); miscellaneous other uses, 228 million acres (10.1 percent); and urban land, 60 million acres (2.6 percent). National and regional trends in land use are discussed in comparison with earlier major land-use estimates.

  • 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.

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

    Amber Waves, August 04, 2014

    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.

  • 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.

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

    Amber Waves, February 03, 2014

    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.

  • Population Loss in Nonmetro Counties Continues

    Amber Waves, August 03, 2015

    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.

  • Recreation Counties Are the Fastest Growing Nonmetro Counties

    Amber Waves, February 01, 2006

    The appeal of rural areas for recreation has a long history, going back as far as colonial times, when places with restorative hot springs emerged as resorts. Today some rural communities are capitalizing on their recreational appeal to foster new economic development, helping retain or increase population. Researchers from ERS and Loyola University Chicago have identified 300 nonmetropolitan (nonmetro) counties that have a major dependence on recreational activity (recreation counties).

  • Recreation, Tourism, and Rural Well-Being

    ERR-7, August 09, 2005

    Recreation and tourism development generally increases local employment, wage levels, and income in rural areas. Drawbacks include higher housing costs. Local effects vary significantly, depending on the type of recreation area.

  • Rural Amenities: A Key Reason for Farmland Protection

    Amber Waves, July 01, 2006

    While conversions of farmland to urban uses represent less than 0.1 percent of U.S. farmland per year, local farmland losses continue to cause concern and motivate growing public support for farmland protection.