The biggest metro areas account for 72 percent of U.S. employment growth since the recession in 2009 and 2010, and were the first to get back to pre-recession employment levels. The smallest rural communities still haven't gotten there, and the very smallest — rural areas not adjacent to metro areas — have actually seen employment declines since 2014.
|Brookings Institution chart; click on it to view a larger version|
That's a "mixed strategy that respects the efficiency of hubs of concentrated economic activity but seeks to extend this kind of dynamism to more regions by ensuring access to the basic prerequisites of high-quality growth," Hendrickson, Muro and Galston write. "This approach assumes that regional equity won’t occur without economic development but that excessive imbalances between regions can jeopardize such development. Our place-sensitive strategy seeks to mitigate uneven development by ensuring economic growth occurs in a wider swath of regions."
- In practice, this approach might employ the following strategies:
- Boost the digital skills of workers in rural areas
- Make sure businesses in economically depressed areas have access to business funding
- Make sure rural areas have broadband
- Identify and strengthen "growth poles": promising rural communities whose growth could help the surrounding region
- Help Americans make long-distance moves to areas with better jobs