Publications

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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Rural Poverty at a Glance

    RDRR-100, July 20, 2004

    This publication provides the most recent information on poverty trends and demographic characteristics of the rural poor. The rate of poverty is not only an important social indicator of the well-being of the least well off, but it is also widely used as an input in shaping Federal policies and targeting program benefits. While metro and nonmetro areas have shared similar patterns of reductions and increases in poverty rates over time, there continues to exist a wide and persistent gap between nonmetro and metro poverty rates. The report also documents large metro-nonmetro gaps when poverty is analyzed by race, ethnicity, age, and family structure.

  • Research Areas

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2004

    Research Areas page from the June 2004 issue of Amber Waves

  • New Patterns of Hispanic Settlement in Rural America

    RDRR-99, May 28, 2004

    Since 1980, the nonmetro Hispanic population in the United States has doubled and is now the most rapidly growing demographic group in rural and small-town America. By 2000, half of all nonmetro Hispanics lived outside traditional settlement areas of the Southwest. Many Hispanics in counties that have experienced rapid Hispanic growth are recent U.S. arrivals with relatively low education levels, weak English proficiency, and undocumented status. This recent settlement has increased the visibility of Hispanics in many new regions of rural America whose population has long been dominated by non-Hispanic Whites. Yet within smaller geographic areas, the level of residential separation between them increased-i.e., the two groups became less evenly distributed-during the 1990s, especially in rapidly growing counties. Hispanic settlement patterns warrant attention by policymakers because they affect the well-being of both Hispanics and rural communities themselves.

  • Rural America at a Glance

    Amber Waves, February 01, 2004

    During the 1990s, the U.S. experienced the longest economic expansion on record, with higher earnings and less poverty. Rural areas shared in the Nation's prosperity, leading demographers to declare it the decade of the rural rebound.

  • Rural Education at a Glance

    RDRR-98, January 29, 2004

    This report provides the latest information from the 2000 Census and other Federal sources on the education characteristics of rural workers and counties. It documents the steady rise in rural adult educational attainment in the 1990s and the increasing importance of education to rural workers and places. The report also finds that racial educational differences remain large and that adult education levels remain far below the national average in many rural counties, particularly in the South. Counties with more educated populations appear to have performed better economically in the 1990s and have lower poverty rates.

  • Impacts of Hispanic Population Growth on Rural Wages

    AER-826, September 24, 2003

    Although earnings generally increased in rural areas in the 1990s, Hispanic population growth led to lower wages for at least one segment of the rural population-workers with a high school degree (skilled workers), particularly men in this skill group. Using data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Current Population Survey, this report examines the effects of Hispanic population growth on rural wages. The analysis combines approaches from earlier immigration-impact studies and more recent work that incorporates the role of labor demand in the labor market. The analysis finds that labor demand shift factors and other area-specific factors that often are not included in immigration studies are important. Results indicate that labor demand increases favored skilled workers (those with a high school degree) overall but favored unskilled and professional workers in some rural industries. Thus, the increased supply of unskilled labor from Hispanic population growth led to lower wages for skilled men as a result of production changes in some parts of the rural economy.

  • Rural America at a Glance (2003)

    RDRR-97-1, September 02, 2003

    Rural America At A Glance 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. This brochure is the second in a series of reports that uses current social and economic data to highlight important population, labor market, income, and poverty trends in rural areas. The new metropolitan/nonmetropolitan classification is also discussed. The format of the report incorporates text bullets with charts and maps to make the report easy-to-read and visually interesting. 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.

  • Exploring the Diversity of Rural America Through Interactive Mapping

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2003

    The Rural Indicators Map Machine, an Internet-based mapping program on the ERS website, makes it easier to visual the geographic distribution of economic and social conditions across America. Maps generated through the program reveal overall population change, population change by race and ethnicity, unemployment rates, and median household incomes across user-specified geographic levels (national, State, and county) and ERS classification schemes.

  • Comparisons of Metropolitan-Nonmetropolitan Poverty During the 1990's

    RDRR-96, June 25, 2003

    While the greater incidence of poverty in nonmetro relative to metro areas is well documented, there is little research as to whether it is deeper or more severe in nonmetro areas. This report examines metro-nonmetro differences in U.S. poverty rates, using data from Current Population Surveys (1991-2000) and poverty measures that are sensitive to income distribution. The standard practice of examining only the headcount, or incidence, of poverty provides the expected result that poverty is greater in nonmetro areas in all 10 years of the 1990s. The poverty gap index, which measures the depth of poverty, indicates that the difference in this measure of poverty is statistically significant in 6 of the 10 years. When the squared poverty gap index, a measure of severity, is examined, the estimate of nonmetro poverty is greater than the metro measure in only 3 of the 10 years.

  • 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.

  • Rural America, Vol. 17, Issue 4

    RA-174, January 14, 2003

    This issue discusses a number of topics concerning rural America, including rural population loss and migration, recreation counties and their rapid growth, U.S.-China trade, federal funding in rural America, rural land ownership, rural infrastructure, and rural employment growth. Updates on rural conditions and trends include data on migration, rural poverty, and jobs and earnings.

  • Wage Premiums for On-the-Job Computer Use: A Metro and Nonmetro Analysis

    RDRR-95, December 30, 2002

    An analysis of on-the-job computer use shows that such use is more common in metro areas than in nonmetro areas. A substantial wage premium, 10 to 11 percent, is associated with using a computer on the job, even after other job and worker characteristics are taken into account. However, this wage premium accounts for only a small proportion of the wage differences between metro and nonmetro areas. In nonmetro areas, the computer use wage premium is only about 6 percent.

  • Rural America at a Glance

    RDRR-94-1, September 13, 2002

    Rural America At A Glance 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. This brochure is the first in a series of reports that uses current social and economic data, along with recently released information from the 2000 census, to highlight important population, labor market, income, and poverty trends in rural areas. The format of the report incorporates text bullets with charts and maps to make the report easy-to-read and visually interesting. 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.

  • Effects of North American Free Trade Agreement on Agriculture and the Rural Economy

    WRS-0201, July 30, 2002

    This report assesses the impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on U.S. agriculture and trade. It also contains sections on investment, employment, the environment, and transportation, as well as detailed commodity assessments of the impact of NAFTA on trade.

  • Issues in Food Assistance-Reforming Welfare: What Does It Mean for Rural Areas?

    FANRR-26-4, June 03, 2002

    The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act dramatically altered the social safety net for poor Americans, including the 7 million people living in poverty in nonmetro areas. This issue brief examines evidence from recent research about rural-urban differences in welfare reform impacts on program participation, employment, earnings, and poverty and assesses how well welfare reform is working in rural areas.

  • Displaced Workers: Differences in Nonmetro and Metro Experience in the Mid-1990s

    RDRR-92, October 15, 2001

    During 1995-97, 3.4 million workers were displaced from their jobs, of whom 500,000 (15 percent) were nonmetro workers. This report examines the displaced workers' experience in metro and nonmetro areas using survey and administrative data. Although nonmetro workers were less likely to be displaced than metro workers, they had a lower probability of finding employment after losing their jobs. Nonmetro workers were less likely to be covered by legislation providing advance notice of job loss and providing retirement and health insurance benefits after being laid off. A variety of programs are available to assist displaced workers in nonmetro areas.

  • Meeting the Housing Needs of Rural Residents: Results of the 1998 Survey of USDA's Single Family Direct Loan Housing Program

    RDRR-91, December 09, 1999

    USDA's Section 502 Single Family Direct Loan Housing Program provides subsidized housing loans to low- and moderate-income rural residents who do not own adequate housing and cannot obtain a home mortgage from other sources. Typical recent borrowers from the program are under 40, have children, have low or modest incomes, have a home that is better than their previous residence, and are satisfied with their current home, neighborhood, and the Section 502 program. Most believed that, without assistance from the program, they would have been unable to afford a comparable home for at least 2 years and possibly never. These findings are based on a national survey of 3,027 recent Section 502 borrowers, conducted by the Economic Research Service at the request of USDA's Rural Development mission area. The survey identified borrower characteristics and addressed issues of program effectiveness and performance. This report compares the survey's findings with similar information for other low- and moderate-income rural residents and provides a separate analysis of program participation by elderly, single-parent, disabled, Hispanic, and black households.

  • Green Technologies for a More Sustainable Agriculture

    AIB-752, July 01, 1999

    For U.S. agriculture to continue along a sustainable path of economic development, further production increases must be generated by technologies that are both profitable and more environmentally benign. In this context, we assess the role of these green or sustainable technologies in steering agriculture along a more sustainable path. However, the lack of markets for the environmental attributes associated with green technologies can limit their development. In addition, simply making a technology available does not mean it will be adopted. Experience with green technologies such as conservation tillage, integrated pest management, enhanced nutrient management, and precision agriculture demonstrates that even when technologies are profitable, barriers to adopting new practices can limit their effectiveness.