ERS Charts of Note
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Thursday, July 23, 2015
Child poverty rates varied considerably across nonmetropolitan (rural) counties according to 2009-13 county averages (data on poverty for all U.S. counties are available from the American Community Survey only for 5-year averages). According to the official poverty measure, one in five rural counties had child poverty rates over 33 percent. Child poverty has increased since the 2000 Census (which measured poverty in 1999) and the number of rural counties with child poverty rates of over 33 percent has more than doubled. Improving young adult education levels tended to lower child poverty rates over the period, but increases in single-parent households and economic recession were associated with rising child poverty. Metropolitan counties had average child poverty rates of 21 percent in 2009-13. This map appears in the July 2015 Amber Waves feature, "Understanding the Geography of Growth in Rural Child Poverty."
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Both urban (metro) and rural (nonmetro) unemployment rates have dropped since the highs reached at the end of the most recent recession. In 2007, the rural unemployment rate averaged 5.1 percent, compared to 4.5 percent in urban areas. As the recession unfolded, metro and nonmetro unemployment rates rose rapidly and converged, peaking at 10 percent in the first quarter of 2010. Since that time, the two unemployment rates have followed similar downward trends. The seasonally adjusted rural unemployment rate stood at 6.4 percent in the second quarter of 2014, while the urban rate fell to 6.2 percent. Until recently, the bulk of the decline in the rural unemployment rate is due to a reduction in the number of people seeking work, not an increase in the number of people working. This chart is found in the October 2014 Amber Waves feature, "Rural Employment in Recession and Recovery."
Friday, December 12, 2014
Despite an upward trend in rural educational attainment levels over time, a larger proportion of working-age adults in urban areas have college degrees. This rural-urban disparity is partly the result of considerably higher earnings levels for college graduates and advanced degree holders in urban areas. Many young adults leave rural areas to attend college, and many remain in urban areas after college due to the higher earnings available to them in those areas. In contrast, differences between rural and urban earnings levels are much smaller for those with less education, who thus have less incentive to move to urban areas. However, despite the lower earnings generally available in rural areas, some individuals and families at all levels of educational attainment migrate from urban to rural areas, as quality-of-life factors, lower housing costs, personal ties, or other specific opportunities motivate them to move or move back to rural America. This chart is found in the 2014 edition of Rural America at a Glance, EB-26, November 2014.
Monday, November 24, 2014
While the U.S. economy is now in its 6th year of recovery from the Great Recession of 2007-09, many rural areas have struggled to recover the jobs lost during the downturn. While urban employment now exceeds pre-recession levels, rural employment remains well below its 2007 peak and has continued to fall over the last year in many areas. Notable clusters of employment decline can be found in the Deep South, Appalachia, the Mountain West, and the Pacific Northwest. Employment in rural America as a whole is less than 2 percent above the employment trough reached during the recession, and rose less than 1 percent between mid-2013 and mid-2014. One example of employment growth, however, was seen in the Northern Plains, where new jobs have been generated by rising energy extraction. Rural counties that are adjacent to metro areas have also experienced faster-than-average job growth since 2009, after having suffered larger-than-average job losses during the 2007-09 recession. This map is found in the 2014 edition of Rural America at a Glance, EB-26, November 2014.
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
During the pre-recession economic growth years, counties with a high percentage of their workforce employed in “creative” occupations—engineers, scientists, artists, and others tasked with combining knowledge and ideas in novel ways—tended to experience higher rates of local employment growth than other counties, but having a high share of creative jobs did not offer much local job market protection during the 2007-09 recession. “Creative class” counties—those in the top quartile of all counties ranked by their share of creative jobs—were more likely to experience employment losses in the recession than other counties. However, a higher share of creative class counties gained employment during the economic recovery. While a much higher percentage of metro counties have seen recent employment growth whether or not they are creative class counties, a higher share of nonmetro counties gained employment during both the recession and recovery, the latter group benefitting from employment gains driven mainly by the energy boom. This chart is derived from the October 2014 Amber Waves data feature, "What Happened to the "'Creative Class' Job Growth Engine" During the Recession and Recovery?"
Thursday, October 9, 2014
During the 2007-09 recession, unemployment rates rose fastest in the West, South, South Atlantic, and parts of the Midwest. States most reliant on manufacturing—including Michigan, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and North Carolina—were hit especially hard. Many of the States with the smallest increases in unemployment were located in the Great Plains and had relatively high employment shares in agriculture, which was largely unaffected by the recession. Similarly, States in the West South Central region (which includes Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas) saw their unemployment rates held in check by growth in oil and gas drilling. Since 2009, unemployment rates have fallen in all States, with large improvements in a few. In general, States that experienced the largest increases in unemployment rates during the recession have seen the largest reductions in unemployment rates during the recovery. Still, most of the hardest-hit States continue to have above-average unemployment rates. As a result, the current geography of county unemployment rates still reflects the patterns established during the recession. Many of the counties with the lowest unemployment rates (below 4.7 percent) are located in or near the Great Plains. The highest unemployment rate counties (above 8.7 percent) are concentrated in the West, South, and South Atlantic, as well as in Appalachia and parts of the Rust Belt. This chart is found in the October 2014 edition of Amber Waves.
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
The most recent American Community Survey shows that the percentage of the working-age (adults between the ages of 25 and 64) rural population with schooling beyond a high school diploma increased from 44.5 percent in 2000 to 50.6 percent in 2008-12. As elsewhere, rural people have an economic incentive to acquire additional skills and higher educational attainment; doing so improves both their employment prospects and earnings potential. Even though urban places often offer higher wages than rural places for the college educated, good schools coupled with easy access to outdoor amenities and the potential for a higher quality of life can be an effective draw for rural in-migrants. Increasing school quality and educational attainment is often viewed as part of a broader economic development strategy for rural communities, particularly when paired with job creation strategies such as entrepreneurship and small business development. This chart is based on the ERS data product, County Level Data Sets, updated July 2014.
Thursday, June 5, 2014
The creative class thesis—that towns need to attract engineers, architects, artists, and people in other creative occupations to compete in today's economy—may be particularly relevant to rural communities, which tend to lose much of their talent when young adults leave to attend college, pursue employment opportunities in urban areas, or join the armed forces. The ERS creative class codes indicate a county's share of population employed in occupations that require "thinking creatively." In 2007-11, 217 nonmetro counties ranked in the top 25 percent in the share of employment in creative class occupations. While rural counties generally lost employment and population in 2012-13, rural creative class counties gained, although at half the pace of urban creative class counties. Clusters of rural creative class counties are found in areas of natural beauty, such as the Rocky Mountains and northern New England, which are attractive places to live. Adjacency to metropolitan areas and the presence of university or college towns are also associated with many rural creative class counties across the U.S. This map and the related underlying data are found in the ERS data product, Creative Class County Codes, updated May 2014.
Friday, May 23, 2014
Nearly 4 million veterans reside in rural America (defined here as residents of nonmetropolitan counties). Rural veterans are an aging and increasingly diverse group of men and women who comprise nearly 11 percent of the rural adult population, although their numbers are consistently declining. The share of rural veterans differs by age, ranging from less than 3 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds up to 25 percent of those aged 65 and older. The age distribution of rural veterans tends to be older than nonveterans; nearly half of rural veterans were age 65 or older in 2012, compared with only 18 percent of rural nonveterans. The aging of the rural veteran population is largely due to the fact that a smaller share of the population now serves in the military than in the past. For instance, nearly 20 percent of American men served in the military during World War II, compared to less than 1 percent today. This chart comes from Rural Veterans at a Glance, EB-25, November 2013.
Friday, February 21, 2014
From 2000 to 2011, onshore gross withdrawals of natural gas in the lower 48 States increased by about 47 percent, reaching historic highs in every year after 2006. Over the same period, withdrawals of oil increased by 11 percent, with much of that growth occurring between 2007 and 2011. Rural counties (nonmetro noncore) accounted for almost all of the growth in oil production and a large share of the growth in gas production based on newly released data from ERS on County-level Oil and Gas Production in the U.S. While just over 35 percent of counties in the lower 48 States reported some level of oil or natural gas production during 2000-11, sizeable changes in production levels were more concentrated. Interestingly, the number of counties with an increase in oil and gas production of $20 million or more over the decade (218 counties) was nearly the same as the number (212) with a decrease of $20 million or more. This map is found in the Documentation and Maps page of the data product County-level Oil and Gas Production in the U.S., and also in the Amber Waves article, "Onshore Oil and Gas Development in the Lower 48 States: Introducing a County-Level Database of Production for 2000-2011."
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
The current military recruitment standard requiring a high school diploma or equivalent (in most cases) explains the much lower percentage of high school dropouts among rural veterans—9.5 percent compared with nearly 15 percent among all rural adults. In addition, about 53 percent of veterans living in rural counties in 2011 had completed at least some formal education beyond high school, including 21 percent who earned a bachelor’s degree or higher (compared with 19 percent for all rural adults). Higher educational attainment may help explain some of the economic advantage enjoyed by rural veterans—in 2011, 6 percent of rural veterans were living at or below the poverty line, compared to 15 percent of all rural adults. This chart is found in the ERS report, Rural Veterans At A Glance, EB-25, November 2013.
Thursday, December 19, 2013
Between 1992 and 2011, the share of rural veterans representing racial-ethnic minorities increased from 6 to 10 percent. Despite this increase, rural minorities remain under-represented relative to their 18.4-percent share of the adult rural population. For example, while Hispanic men and women accounted for 7 percent of the rural population in 2011, they represented only about 2 percent of rural veterans that year. Rapid population growth in the 1980s and 1990s among rural Hispanics was led by young-adult job seekers, mostly foreign-born—these newcomers were typically less inclined to volunteer for military service and were less likely to meet the military’s enlistment requirements. Rural Hispanic immigrants have been aging into family formation, settling into permanent residence, and raising children who may be more inclined to consider and qualify for military service. African Americans and Native Americans also account for a lower share of rural veterans relative to their share of the rural population, although the gap is less pronounced. This chart is found in the ERS report, Rural Veterans At A Glance, EB-25, November 2013.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
The national poverty rate (based on pre-tax income of less than $23,492 for an average family of four) was 15.0 percent in 2012; the rate was 17.7 percent in nonmetro areas and 14.5 percent in metro areas. High-poverty counties—those with a poverty rate of 20 percent or higher—are often geographically clustered. During 2007-11, there were 703 high-poverty counties in the United States; 571 were nonmetro, mostly in the South and Southwest. Most newly-classified rural high-poverty counties are located adjacent to clusters of historically high-poverty counties, but some were outside these clusters, mainly in areas with substantial losses in the real estate market and manufacturing employment between 2006 and 2009. This map is found in Rural America at a Glance, 2013 edition, released November 2013.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Employment fell by roughly 5 percent in both rural and urban areas during the Great Recession of 2007-09. In 2010, the first year of the economic recovery, metro and nonmetro employment levels grew at comparable rates. Since the start of 2011, however, net job growth in nonmetro areas has been near zero while employment in metro counties has grown at an annual rate of 1.4 percent. The stagnation in nonmetro job growth overlaps with the first recorded period of nonmetro population loss, between 2010 and 2012, which was driven by a decrease in net migration to rural areas. This lack of population growth, combined with a falling labor force participation rate, has permitted the nonmetro unemployment rate to fall slowly but steadily despite the lack of employment growth. This chart is found in Rural America at a Glance, 2013 Edition, released November 2013.
Friday, November 8, 2013
Employment challenges facing recent military veterans are similar to those faced by all new civilian labor force entrants. In addition to these challenges, veterans also face higher rates of disability. The practical skills recent veterans have acquired are often superior to those of their nonveteran peers. As a result, the positive economic impacts veterans are likely making in rural America once they find work and start their careers can be seen in employment differences by industry. Rural veterans were more likely than rural nonveterans to be employed in higher-skilled, higher-paying industries in 2011, including manufacturing and professional and business services. While lower-paying industries such as education and health services, and leisure and hospitality (hotels, restaurants, etc.) employed over 30 percent of rural nonveteran workers in 2011, only 17 percent of rural veterans worked in these service industries. Just over 6 percent of rural veterans worked in agriculture (including fishing, forestry, and hunting). This chart is found in the ERS report Rural Veterans At A Glance, EB-25, November 2013.
Thursday, July 25, 2013
Historically, rural (nonmetro) areas in the United States have lagged metro areas in educational attainment, but nonmetro areas are catching up over time. In the decade following the 2000 Census, the percentage of the rural population with less than a high school education dropped significantly, and is now only slightly higher than in urban areas. Meanwhile, high school completion, college attendance, and college completion rates in nonmetro areas all rose during the 2000s. However, nonmetro areas still face a large gap compared with metro areas in the share of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher—17.4 percent versus 30.2 percent in 2007-11. At least part of this gap reflects the higher pay that highly educated workers often can earn in metropolitan labor markets. This chart updates one found in the Rural Employment and Education topic page.
Thursday, July 11, 2013
All sectors of the economy were not equally affected by the 2007-09 economic recession and the subsequent recovery. Specialization within local economies has shaped county-to-county differences in recent rural (nonmetro) growth in jobs. Boosted by high farm income and, in some areas, booming gas-extraction activities, farming-dependent counties have seen job growth for the first time in many years, growing during and after the recession. Manufacturing counties, affected by global competition, showed weak job growth in the early 2000s, followed by substantial losses during the recession. Recreation counties, which experienced above-average job growth in 2001-07, lost jobs in 2007-09 as their housing markets collapsed and the recession reduced tourism. Weak postrecession job growth did not bring jobs back to prerecession levels in most nonmetro counties by 2011. County economic types were defined by ERS in 2004 and are scheduled to be updated next year. This chart combines the ERS county typology codes with employment data from U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Nonmetro counties classified by ERS as dependent on farming have historically lagged other nonmetro counties in growth. However, with agriculture generally thriving through the recession and recovery period, farm counties have had relatively healthy growth since 2009. Bureau of Economic Analysis statistics show that 18 percent of farm counties lost jobs in 2009-2011, but this was a far lower than the 45 percent proportion found among other nonmetro counties. Some of the gain in farm counties was due to growth in shale mining for oil and gas. This chart is based on the County Typology Codes, found on the ERS website.
Monday, January 7, 2013
After 2 years of economic recovery, improvements in nonmetro labor markets remain limited. While the 2007-09 recession was less severe in nonmetro areas, the subsequent economic recovery appears to be slower than in metro areas. Weak labor demand has put downward pressure on hourly wages, although wage declines have been smaller in nonmetro than metro areas. Real hourly wages grew through 2009, but fell in 2010 and 2011. The median hourly wage for all workers (excluding the self-employed), measured in constant 2011 dollars, was estimated at $14.53 in nonmetro counties and $17.04 in metro areas in 2011, down by $0.19 and $0.52, respectively, from their peak in 2009. Nonmetro real wages fell by 0.4% in 2010 and 0.9% in 2011, compared to a decline of about 1.5% in metro areas in both years. The larger wage declines registered in metro areas in 2010 and 2011 may in part reflect the fact that metro area unemployment was about one-half of a percentage point higher than in nonmetro counties. This chart appears in the 2012 edition of Rural America At A Glance, December 2012.
Friday, December 21, 2012
Using hydraulic fracturing—a method of cracking rock by injecting water, sand, and chemicals under high pressure—drilling companies have increased extraction of natural gas from rock formations like shale. The three Western States of Colorado, Texas, and Wyoming saw large increases in gas production in the 2000s, most of which came from such unconventional sources. Not all counties in each State were close enough to the activity to benefit economically from the boom. On average, counties participating in the gas production boom saw a larger percent increase in employment, wage and salary income, and median household income and a larger decrease in the poverty between 1999 and 2007 than counties not participating. Still, for the scale of extraction that occurred in the three States, the number of jobs added to local economies is multiple times below what has been projected for the development of shale gas formations in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania. This chart appears in the December 2012 edition of Amber Waves magazine.