The Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service looked at data for non-farm rural economic sectors like manufacturing and services in 2010-14, when the overall economy was recovering from the Great Recession. Most of the rural manufacturers studied were in chemicals, pharmaceuticals, computers, plastics and textiles.
The results? About 53 percent of rural manufacturers with more than 100 employees were 'substantive innovators', compared to 49 percent of similarly sized urban manufacturers. "That means those firms did things like reform their business practices based on customer feedback, create new products or significantly modify old ones, analyze data to evaluate progress and efficiency, and use trade-secret protections like non-disclosure agreements or non-compete clauses," the Yonder reports.
|USDA graphic; click on it to enlarge.|
The results are preliminary and will need more study, but it challenges the assumption that urban employers channel advantages like better internet connectivity or more potential skilled workers into more innovative practices, the Yonder reports.