Income

Median household income for rural (nonmetropolitan) counties rose to $44,212 in 2015, an increase of 3.4 percent over the prior year (after adjusting for inflation). This was the second year in a row of rising real income for the median rural household, ending 6 years of declines during and after the end of the Great Recession of 2007-09. The 2015 figure remains 3.5 percent below its 2007 peak. Urban (metropolitan) median income has now risen for 3 years in a row, reaching $58,260 in 2015.

In all years since 2007, rural median income was about 25 percent below the urban median. However, because these figures do not take account of geographic differences in the cost of living, this may overstate the gap in household purchasing power between urban and rural areas.

Real median household income by residence, 2007–15 (in 2015 dollars)
Year Nonmetro median household income ($) Nonmetro change from previous year (%) Metro median household income ($) Metro change from previous year (%) Nonmetro as percentage of metro (%)
2007 45,816   60,661   75.5
2008 45,199 -1.3* 60,538 -0.2 74.7
2009 43,870 -2.9* 58,167 -3.9* 75.4
2010 43,519 -0.8* 56,519 -2.8* 77.0
2011 42,879 -1.5* 55,241 -2.3* 77.6
2012 42,751 -0.3 55,340 0.2 77.3
2013** 42,478 -0.6* 55,741 0.7* 76.2
2014** 42,749 0.6* 56,242 0.9* 76.0
2015** 44,212 3.4* 58,260 3.6* 75.9
Notes: *Indicates a statistically significant change in median income from the previous year, at the 90-percent confidence level. **The definition of metropolitan areas changed in 2013, which moved some counties from nonmetro to metro status and reduced the number of nonmetro households from 19.4 million in 2012 to 17.7 million in 2013. 
Source: USDA, Economic Research Service using data from U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, Table B19013, various years (via American Fact Finder). Adjusted for inflation using CPI-U.