Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Study: Recreation-dependent rural counties recovered more quickly than other rural counties, but wages are lower

Recreation-based rural counties in 2017 (Headwaters Economics map; click the image to enlarge it)
Rural counties whose economies depend on recreation recovered better and more quickly after the Great Recession, says a study by rural researchers Headwaters Economics. "Recreation appears to drive varied economic benefits, including short-term support for tourism-related businesses and longer-term support by recruiting new residents who may be business owners, entrepreneurs, or workers, supporting growth in earnings per job across a community," the report says.

From the end of the Great Recession in 2010 through 2016, rural recreation counties slightly gained in population through migration while most other rural counties lost population the same way. The average rural recreation county gained more than 1 person per 1,000 residents while the average non-recreation rural county lost 20 people per 1,000 residents, according to the report.

People who moved to rural recreation counties tended to make $8,700 more per year than people who moved to non-recreation counties. It's less clear what effect those high earners are having on their local economy; most recreation jobs tend to be notoriously low-paying. The average job in a rural recreation county pays $5,100 less per year than in non-recreation rural counties, but average wages in rural recreation counties grew six times faster than in their non-recreation counterparts between 2010 and 2016, the report said.

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