Tuesday, December 01, 2015

USDA Rural America at a Glance report has data on employment, population, poverty, education

Employment in rural areas is on the rise, according to Rural America at a Glance, an annual report by the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The report, released today, also features valuable information on trends in rural population, poverty and education.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement: "Today's report reflects a rural America on the road to recovery. Rural employment has increased; rural population decline did not increase over the past year and some rural counties have seen population growth; and the rural child poverty rate has declined by one percentage point. These trends are promising."

The report states: "Employment grew more than 1 percent in rural areas during the year that ended in the second quarter of 2015. This is a marked improvement from previous years of very slow growth or decline. Nonetheless, rural employment in mid-2015 was still 3.2 percent below its pre-recession peak in 2007. In contrast, urban employment rose nearly 2 percent in the past year, continuing a trend of consistent growth since 2011, and is now well above its pre-recession peak. In both urban and rural areas, employment growth is slightly ahead of population growth." (USDA graphics)
At the same time, "unemployment rates fell by a full percentage point or more in each of the last 2 calendar years in both rural and urban areas," states the report. "The share of adults who are working (total employment as a share of residents age 16 or older who are not on active military duty or in institutions such as nursing homes or prisons) remains 3 percentage points below its level prior to the recession in both rural and urban areas."

Rural population has declined by 30,000 each of the past two years and 116,000 over the past four years, states the report. "While these declines are small, 2010-2014 is the first period of overall population decline on record for rural America as a whole and stands in stark contrast with the urban population, which continues to grow by more than 2 million per year." From 2010 to 2014, about 300 rural counties lost population due to natural change and net migration, with 230,000 more births than deaths and 346,000 more people having moved out of rural counties than moved in.
Child poverty has increased from 21.9 percent in 2007 to 24.2 percent in 2009 to 25.2 percent in 2014, states the report. Deep poverty rates for rural children have increased from 9.6 percent in 2007 to 11.3 percent in 2014. The poverty rate for rural working-age was 6.2 percent in 2007 and 7.8 percent in 2014.

"The proportion of rural adults with a 4-year college degree or more increased by 4 percentage points between 2000 and 2014, and the proportion without a high school diploma or equivalent, such as a GED (General Education Diploma), declined by 9 percentage points," states the report. "Between 2000 and 2014, the share of young adults ages 25-34 with bachelor’s degrees grew in urban areas from 29 to 35 percent. In rural counties, the college-educated proportion of young adults rose from 15 to 19 percent."

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