Publications

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  • Low-Skill Employment and the Changing Economy of Rural America

    ERR-10, October 31, 2005

    This study reports trends in rural low-skill employment in the 1990s and their impact on the rural workforce. The share of rural jobs classified as low-skill fell by 2.2 percentage points between 1990 and 2000, twice the decline of the urban low-skill employment share, but much less than the decline of the 1980s. Employment shifts from low-skill to skilled occupations within industries, rather than changes in industry mix, explain virtually all of the decline in the rural low-skill employment share. The share decline was particularly large for rural Black women, many of whom moved out of low-skill blue-collar work into service occupations, while the share of rural Hispanics who held low-skill jobs increased.

  • Rural Areas Benefit From Recreation and Tourism Development

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2005

    Recreation and tourism development contributes to rural well-being, increasing local employment, wage levels, and income; reducing poverty; and improving education and health. But recreation and tourism development is not without drawbacks, including higher housing costs.

  • Low Earnings But Steady Job Growth in Low-Employment Counties

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2005

    In 2000, overall job growth in low-employment counties was steady but slower than in nonmetro areas. Nonmetro low-employment counties also had lower earnings per job in 2000 than all other nonmetro counties. Low wages reduce the incentive to enter the labor market, especially among adults in families that require child care.

  • Older Women and Poverty in Rural America

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2005

    Rural areas generally have a higher proportion of older persons than urban areas, and nonmetro poverty rates for older persons are higher than metro rates. Women constituted 65 percent of the rural poor age 65 and older in 2003. In rural areas, 10 percent of men versus 17 percent of women age 85 and older were poor.

  • Farm Poverty Lowest in U.S. History

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2005

    Fifty years ago, half of all U.S. farm families were poor. Today, however, farm poverty is at its lowest level in the Nation's history due to the availability of remunerative off-farm employment coupled with onfarm gains in labor productivity.

  • Most Low Education Counties Are in the Nonmetro South

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2005

    ERS's recently revised county typology classifies low education counties as those where at least one of every four adults age 25-64 has not completed high school. Nearly 9 of 10 low education counties are located in the South, including a majority of southern counties with historically large shares of Blacks and Hispanics.

  • Former Welfare Recipients Affect Economic Growth and Wages

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2005

    A goal of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) is to move recipients of public assistance into jobs. ERS researchers examined some of the labor market impacts of the "welfare-to-work" provisions of PRWORA. Results show that the influx of public assistance recipients into the labor force from 1996 to 2000 reduced wage growth in low-skill occupations. Concurrently, the influx of former welfare recipients added workers to the labor force, contributing to economic growth during the period.

  • Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations: Body Weight Status

    AIB-796-3, February 14, 2005

    The Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations study examined several measures of body weight status for children and adults using 1988-94 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data. The measures provide a baseline to monitor the weight status of Americans, focusing on the low-income population.

  • Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations: Meal Patterns, Milk and Soft Drink Consumption, and Supplement Use

    AIB-796-4, February 14, 2005

    The Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations study examined several eating behaviors for children and adults using 1988-94 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES-III) data. The measures provide a baseline to monitor eating behaviors of Americans, focusing on the low-income population.

  • Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations: Clinic Measures of Iron, Folate, Vitamin B12, Cholesterol, Bone Density, and Lead Poisoning

    AIB-796-5, February 14, 2005

    The Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations study examined several eating behaviors for children and adults using 1988-94 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES-III) data. This summary focuses on the nutritional biochemistry blood tests and bone density measures that showed differences between income groups. The measures provide a baseline to monitor eating behaviors of Americans, focusing on the low-income population.

  • Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations: Healthy Eating Index

    AIB-796-1, February 14, 2005

    The Healthy Eating Index measures how well American diets conform to recommended healthy eating patterns, looking at 10 dietary components. The Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations study examined the Healthy Eating Index using 1988-94 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES-III) data. The measures provide a baseline to monitor the dietary quality of Americans, focusing on the low-income population.

  • Supermarket Characteristics and Operating Costs in Low-Income Areas

    AER-839, December 15, 2004

    Whether the poor pay more for food than other income groups is an important question in food price policy research. Stores serving low-income shoppers differ in important ways from stores that receive less of their revenues from Food Stamp redemptions. Stores with more revenues from Food Stamps are generally smaller and older, and offer relatively fewer convenience services for shoppers. They also offer a different mix of products, with a relatively high portion of sales coming from meat and private-label products. Metro stores with high Food Stamp redemption rates lag behind other stores in the adoption of progressive supply chain and human resource practices. Finally, stores with the highest Food Stamp redemption rates have lower sales margins relative to other stores, but have significantly lower payroll costs as a percentage of sales. Overall, operating costs for stores with high Food Stamp redemption rates are not significantly different from those for stores with moderate Food Stamp redemption rates. If the poor do pay more, factors other than operating costs are likely to be the reason.

  • Rural America At A Glance, 2004

    AIB-793, September 30, 2004

    Rural America At A Glance, 2004 is a six-page brochure that highlights the most recent indicators of social and economic conditions in rural areas for use in developing policies and programs to assist rural areas. The brochure is the third in a series of reports that uses current social and economic data to highlight population, labor market, income, and poverty trends in rural areas. This brochure provides information on key rural conditions and trends for use by public and private decisionmakers and others in efforts to enhance the economic opportunities and quality of life for rural people and their communities.

  • Federal Funding for Rural America: Who Get's What?

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2004

    Federal spending and credit programs can revive or sustain rural economies. Overall, rural areas received slightly less funding per capita ($6,020) than urban areas ($6,131) in 2001, but the amount of funding varied greatly by type or function of the program.

  • Persistent Poverty Is More Pervasive in Nonmetro Counties

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2004

    ERS defines counties as being persistently poor if 20 percent or more of their populations were living in poverty over the last 30 years. A majority of the persistent-poverty counties are nonmetro counties located in the South.

  • Anatomy of Nonmetro High-Poverty Areas: Common in Plight, Distinctive in Nature

    Amber Waves, February 01, 2004

    This article discusses how rural high poverty counties differ across racial and demographic lines. Comparisons are made among and between high poverty counties populated by African Americans, Hispanics, Whites, and Native Americans.

  • Dimensions of Child Poverty in Rural Areas

    Amber Waves, November 01, 2003

    An expanding U.S. economy and welfare reform in the 1990s both helped reduce the share of rural children in families living below the poverty rate. However, the share still remains higher than that in urban areas (19 percent versus 15 percent). In 2000, 2.7 million rural children (under 18) were poor, representing 34 percent of the rural poverty population.

  • Rural Welfare Reform: Lessons Learned

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2003

    With congressional reauthorization of welfare legislation scheduled for 2003, ERS addresses two questions to inform the policy debate surrounding reauthorization: What have we learned from empirical studies about rural-urban differences in welfare reform effects on program participation, employment, and poverty? Do rural and urban low-income families have different needs that might be reflected in the design of policies meant to provide assistance?

  • Nonmetro Poverty: Assessing the Effect of the 1990s

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2003

    This Amber Waves article examines the differences in poverty between U.S. metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas during the 1990s.

  • "Digital Divide" Not to Blame for Rural Earnings Shortfall

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2003

    Workers who use computers on the job generally receive higher wages, suggesting that some workers without computer skills or access to computer technology may be disadvantaged. On-the-job computer use is less common in nonmetropolitan (nonmetro) areas than in metro areas, and wages for nonmetro, or rural, workers are generally lower. But does lower computer use explain the metro-nonmetro wage gap?