Rural Economy

(Selected research findings from Fiscal Year 2020. Much of this research pre-dates the pandemic. Please visit for the latest ERS research related to COVID-19)

The rural share of COVID-19 cases and deaths increased markedly during the fall of 2020

The percentage of rural COVID-19 cases and deaths markedly increased during the fall of 2020. ERS provides up-to-date information on rural economic and demographic trends in an annual series, Rural America at a Glance. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 edition of the report noted recent conditions resulting from the pandemic and the ensuing economic recession. The 2020 report noted that rural areas have 14 percent of the population but accounted for 27 percent of COVID-19 deaths during the last 3 weeks of October 2020. Factors likely contributing to this higher rural share include an older population, more underlying health issues, living farther away from hospitals, and being less likely to have health insurance.