by Lorin Kusmin, USDA Economic Research Service
USDA has released the Rural America at a Glance, 2016 Edition. This report highlights the most recent indicators of social and economic conditions in rural areas, focusing on the U.S. rural economy, including employment, population, poverty, and income trends.
Unemployment continued to decline in rural areas in 2015, falling close to levels last seen before the Great Recession, as employment continued to grow. After declining for several years, rural population stabilized. Median annual earnings rose in rural areas and poverty fell markedly in 2015, as in urban areas; the rise in earnings occurred across most major industry sectors. Trends in poverty and median household income were similar across county economic types. While employment in recreation is associated with relatively low earnings, recreation counties overall had relatively high levels of household income and low levels of poverty in 2015.
Little change in population and slow growth in employment in rural America
The total population in rural (non-metro) counties stood at 46.2 million in July 2015, representing 14 percent of U.S. residents in 72 percent of the Nation’s land area. The rural population declined by 136,000, or 0.3 percent, between 2010 and 2014, before leveling out in 2015. (Except where noted, all data for metro and non-metro areas reported here are based on the metropolitan area designations established by the Office of Management and Budget in 2013 based on 2010 Census results.)
Read the full report. (.pdf)