ERS research in this topic area focuses on the economic, social, spatial, and demographic factors that affect the income and poverty status of rural residents. (Food and nutrition assistance topics are covered in depth elsewhere on the ERS website.)

Topics include the following:

  • Overview of rural poverty, including an historical look at poverty rates, child poverty, and deep poverty.
  • The geography of poverty, including analysis of poverty in a regional context, maps of the incidence/severity of poverty, and the geographic persistence of poverty over decades.
  • The demographics of poverty, including the breakdown of rural/urban poverty by race, family structure, and age.
  • Child poverty, including analysis of their poverty by age and depth, family type, region, race/ethnicity, and county-level geography.
  • Income of rural/urban residents, including recent trends in real median household income.

A summary of rural poverty and income topics (among other rural issues) is found in the Rural America at a Glance series, updated in the fall each year. See the latest report in the series: