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美国农村概览 2023 版

2024-01-10  浏览人数:

Recommended citation format for this publication:

Davis, J. C., Cromartie, J., Farrigan, T., Genetin, B., Sanders, A., & Winikoff, J. B. (2023). Rural America at a Glance 2023 Edition (Report No. EIB-261). U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.

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he U.S. rural population is growing again after a decade of overall population loss, with

growth of approximately a quarter percent from 2020 to 2022. This growth occurred

because rural in-migration was larger than declines in the natural rate (the number

of births compared with the number of deaths) of population growth. The rural population

is also experiencing declines in poverty. In 2021, 9.7 percent fewer nonmetropolitan coun-

ties experienced persistent poverty (20 percent or more of the population had poverty level    household incomes in each of the last four decennial Census years) compared with a decade earlier. Still, more than half of extremely low-income nonmetropolitan renter households ex-    perienced housing insecurity. This issue was particularly acute for American Indian or Alaska  Native and Hispanic households. This report examines recent issues such as rural population and migration trends, poverty, housing insecurity, employment, and clean energy jobs. The

report finds that rural employment levels and annual growth rates nearly returned to those seen in the years prior to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Finally, highlighting an

emerging employment area of interest, approximately 1 percent of nonmetropolitan workers hold clean energy jobs.

 

 

 

 


 

 

Overview

 

The U.S. population residing in nonmetropolitan areas in July 2022 was 46 million people, or 13.8 percent of the U.S. population.1  The nonmetropolitan population grew approximately a quarter percent from mid-2020  through mid-2022, a period of renewed growth after declining or near-zero annual growth rates between 2010 and 2020. The increases in nonmetropolitan population resulted from gains in net domestic migration. These  gains exceeded natural declines due to more deaths than births in the same period. Most nonmetropolitan

ies experienced net domestic in-migration, particularly ies located near large metroareas and in     recreation and retirement destinations. However, 42 percent of nonmetropolitan ies decreased in popu- lation from net domestic out-migration.

The share of the nonmetropolitan population experiencing poverty or housing insecurity is a key indicator of population well-being. Of particular interest are nonmetropolitan ies that are experiencing persistent

poverty, defined as ies with poverty rates greater than 20 percent over the prior three decades (specific

definition provided on pages 10–11). Of the 270 nonmetropolitan persistent poverty ies in 2021, 55 are no longer persistent poverty ies compared to 2011. Only 26 became newly persistent poverty ies    over the same period.

People living below the poverty line have a higher risk of housing insecurity. Over the 5-year period from

2015 to 2019, more than half of extremely low-income and one-quarter of very low-income nonmetropolitan renter households experienced housing problems. These problems include a severe housing cost burden,

1 Throughout this report, the terms “rural” and “nonmetro” are used interchangeably, as are the terms “urban” and “metro.” Unless otherwise stated, statistics are calculated using the 2013 U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) metropolitan area definitions d on data from the 2010 U.S.    Census. Of the 3,143 ies in U.S. States, 1,976 are nonmetropolitan and 1,167 are metropolitan. The exact number of ies in a category may

differ depending on data source used. For more on definitions of metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas, as well as related concepts such as urbanized areas and central ies, visit the USDA, Economic Research Service web page What Is Rural?”.

2     Rural America at a Glance    


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

lack of full kitchen or plumbing facilities, and/or dwelling unit overcrowding. Further, almost one-quarter of

American Indian, Alaska Native, or Hispanic (any race) nonmetropolitan households experienced severe hous- ing problems (as defined above), about 10 percentage points higher than for all other racial groups.

Jobs area major contributor to rural household well-being. Following nonmetropolitan job losses of 10

percent in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, nonmetropolitan household employment rebounded in   2021 and continued to recover throughout 2022 and 2023. By the first quarter of 2023, total nonmetropol- itan employment had nearly fully recovered, returning to 99 percent of prepandemic employment levels.2

Nonmetropolitan annual employment growth for 2022 was 0.5 percent, a return to a growth rate similar to  those rates observed for the years prior to the pandemic. Similarly, the nonmetropolitan unemployment rate declined from 11.3 in 2020 to 3.8 percent in 2022.

More than 243,000, or 1 percent, of jobs in nonmetropolitan ies were in clean energy in 2021. In com- parison, around 239,000 nonmetro jobs were in coal, petroleum, and natural gas fuels. The U.S. Department of Energy defines clean energy in its 2023 U.S. Energy and Employment Report as jobs in the technologies    that align with net-zero3  greenhouse gas emissions, including those in renewable energy and biofuels. The

nonmetropolitan clean energy employment share varied across U.S. States, ranging from less than one-half  a percent in Arizona to 2.6 percent in Vermont. Of all States, Texas had the most clean energy jobs (15,000 representing 0.96 percent) in nonmetropolitan ies.

 

 

 

 

2 Urban employment returned to 100 percent of prepandemic employment by the second quarter of 2022.

3 Net-zero emissions refers to achieving an overall balance between greenhouse gas emissions produced, avoided, and removed from the atmosphere.


 

 

 

Nonmetropolitan Population Has Recently Grown

Due to Migration

 

The 46 million U.S. residents living in nonmetropolitan (nonmetro) areas in July 2022 made up 13.8 percent  of the U.S. population. The COVID-19-related renewal of nonmetro population growth first seen in 2020–21 (July through June) continued at roughly an equal rate in the same period the following year (0.14 percent

and 0.12 percent growth, respectively), according to the latest U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of

the Census population estimates as shown in figure 1. This growth represents a large upward shift from a

0.09-percent population decline in the previous year (2019–20), which came at the end of a decade of overall nonmetro population loss. The population number in metroareas followed a different trend in 2019–20 and  2020–21, dropping from 0.42 to 0.16 percent growth between the two periods before returning to 0.42 per-  cent in 2021–22.

Overall, population change in a given area can be subdivided  changes due to net migration (the number    of people moving in minus the number of people moving out) and natural change (the number of births mi-    nus the number of deaths). The population numbers in nonmetroareas experienced COVID-19-related gains  despite a population loss due to a natural decrease (more deaths than births), which shifted from -0.09 percent in 2019–20 to -0.33 percent in both 2020–21 and 2021–22. While hundreds of individual nonmetro ies  have experienced more deaths than births for decades,a natural decrease for nonmetroareas (as a whole) is

a new phenomenon, first appearing in 2017–18. Given decreasing fertility rates for the United States overall    and the aging of the nonmetro population,a natural decrease is likely a permanent fixture for nonmetroareas. Thus, future population growth in nonmetroareas as a whole will depend on retaining current residents and    attracting newcomers.

 

 

 

 

4     Rural America at a Glance    


 

 

 

Figure 1

Population change and components of change, metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas, 2019–20, 2020–21, and 2021–22

 

Percent change

0.7

 

 

0.5

 

 

0.3

 

 

0.1

 

 

-0.1

 

 

-0.3

 

 

-0.5

 

2019–20                 2020–21                 2021–22               2019–20                 2020–21                2021–22

Period

Note: The 1-year periods comprise July through June.

Source: USDA, Economic Research Service using data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census.

 

Fear of exposure to COVID-19 in metroareas and the subsequent increase in remote work contributed to a     major shift in migration patterns.4  Net migration declined for metroareas (from 0.17 to 0.06 percent between 2019–20 and 2020–21), and a mirror-image jump in nonmetro net migration (from 0.01 to 0.47 percent)

occurred at the same time. As shown in figure 2, net migration can be further subdivided  domestic net migration (occurring between areas within the United States) and international migration. In 2020–21,

more people moved from metro to nonmetroareas than in the opposite direction, resulting in a 0.07-percent  decline in metro population and a 0.43-percent gain for nonmetroareas due to net domestic migration. Net   domestic migration favoring nonmetro locations continued in 2021–22. The overall increase in net migration for metroareas in the past 2 years was due almost exclusively to a near tripling of international migration,

from a 0.12-percent gain in 2020–21 to a 0.34-percent gain in 2021–22. Figure 2 summarizes the changes in net migration, broken down by domestic and international components.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4   Nonmetropolitan net migration growth rates were negative from 2010 to 2016 and near zero from 2017 to 2020, as shown in figure 1 in USDA’s Rural America at a Glance, 2022 Edition.


 

 

 

Figure 2

Net migration change and components of change, metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas, 2019–20, 2020–21, and 2021–22

 

Percent change

0.7

 

 

0.5

 

 

0.3

 

 

0.1

 

 

-0.1

 

 

-0.3

 

 

-0.5

 

2019–20                 2020–21                 2021–22               2019–20                 2020–21                2021–22

Period

Note: The 1-year periods comprise July through June.

Source: USDA, Economic Research Service using data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census.

 

Population growth from domestic net migration was not evenly distributed across all nonmetro ies. In   figure 3, for the two yearly periods of 2020–21 and 2021–22 (July through June in both periods) combined,  829 nonmetro ies (out of 1,976) continued to experience net domestic out-migration, with more than  half of the ies losing more than 1 percent of their population. These included many high-poverty coun- ties in the South, some farming ies in the Midwest, and several isolated and sparsely settled ies in  the West. The majority of ies with out-migration were located in the Great Plains, including in some

regions dependent on oil and gas extraction,5  which saw COVID-19-related downturns in production. Most nonmetro ies saw gains in population due to net domestic migration, with 481 growing by 2 percent

or more during 2020–22. These ies are located on the periphery of large metroareas and in recreation     and retirement destinations such as the northern Great Lakes, the southern Appalachians and Ozarks, and the  Rocky Mountains. d on previous research, this increase in “amenity migration” (people choosing locations to live d on quality-of-life factors) is not surprising given that baby boom retirement is reaching its peak,    and remote work is allowing more locational freedom for working-age adults.

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Such regions include the Williston Basin in western North Dakota and eastern Montana, the Oklahoma panhandle, southeastern New Mexico, and west Texas.

6     Rural America at a Glance    


 

 

 

Figure 3

Net domestic migration rate, nonmetropolitan ies, 2020–22

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Percent population change     from net domestic migration     Less than -1 (421 ies)   -1 to 0 (408 ies)

 0 to 1 (395 ies)

 1 to 2 (272 ies)

 2 or higher (481 ies)  Metro ies

Note: The figure shows the net domestic migration rate for each nonmetropolitan y for the period July 2020 through June 2022. The rate is defined as the difference between the number of people moving  a y and the number moving out per 100 of the     population of the y at the beginning of the period.

Source: USDA, Economic Research Service using data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census.


 

 

 

Changes in Metropolitan Areas in 2023 Caused a Small Reduction in Nonmetro Population

 

Most demographic and economic studies of rural conditions and trends (including this report) refer to con-     ditions in nonmetropolitan (nonmetro) ies, which lie outside metropolitan (metro) areas, as defined by   the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Every 10 years, OMB identifies a new set of metroareas  d on the most recent decennial census. While many nonmetro ies continue to lose population, oth-  ers have grown large enough over the past decade to become reclassified as metro. Historically, this reclassifica- tion each decade has led to large nonmetro population losses. In the latest decennial  announced by the OMB in July 2023, 72 nonmetro ies with 2,289,693 million people switched to metro status (dark grey on the map in figure 4). At the sametime, 52 metro ies with 2,127,332 residents switched to nonmetro  status (dark yellow on the map). The net loss for nonmetroareas due to reclassification (162,361 people) is by far the lowest for any decade since 1950 when metroareas were first delineated. The change marks a historic    downturn in urbanization during 2010–20 caused by a number of factors, including a much lower overall

population growth rate for the United States and lower levels of suburbanization through much of the decade.

Figure 4

ies changing metropolitan status, 2013–23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stays nonmetro (1,894 ies)   Nonmetro to metro (72 ies)  Metro to nonmetro (52 ies)   Stays metro (1,117 ies)

 

Note: Connecticut switched from ies to planning regions for the Census reporting between 2013 and 2023 and thus cannot be classified here.

Source: USDA, Economic Research Service using data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census.

 

 

8     Rural America at a Glance    


 

 

Recent Trends Suggest Progress in Reducing Rural Poverty

 

High poverty (poverty rate greater than or equal to 20 percent)6  area status, an indicator of low well-being

of area residents, is apersistent problem for some ies. For other residents, transitions  and out of

high poverty happen in concert with macroeconomic cycles or major events—such as the Great Recession,

the 2010–19 economic expansion, and the COVID-19 pandemic. These transitions often reflect short-run, circumstantial poverty rather than a permanent change in areawide poverty conditions. Therefore, absolute

changes in poverty rates over a relatively short period can be misleading. Combining information about macro- economic cycles or major events with trend analysis offers greater insight  whether poverty conditions are  likely to improve, deteriorate, or stagnate.

An analysis of annual y-level poverty rate estimates for 2007 through 2021 indicates that the majority (86 percent) of all nonmetropolitan (nonmetro) ies experienced a downward trend in poverty over the 15-year period. The decrease in poverty rate was statistically significant (i.e., clearly declining) for 109 non-

metro ies. Poverty rates rose in 13 percent or 252 of all nonmetro ies, with a statistically significant increase in poverty rates for 26 of those ies. (The remaining 1 percent was stagnant or inconclusive.)

 

 

6 The poverty rate is defined by the Office of Management and Budget Statistical Policy Directive 14. The poverty rate is the ratio of the number of people whose income falls below the poverty line. The poverty line is defined by income thresholds that vary by family size and composition. For more   information, see the Census Bureau’s “How the Census Bureau Measures Poverty” and USDA, ERS’s “Poverty Area Measures” websites.


 

 

 

Figure 5

Poverty rate trends for nonmetropolitan ies, 2007–21

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Change in nonmetro y poverty rates

 Inconclusive

 No significant change   Significant increase      Significant decrease    Metro ies

 

Note: Significant change is d on statistical significance at the 90-percent level. “Inconclusive” represents low data reliability or missing data for one or more data periods.

Source: USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) using U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Small Area Income and

Poverty Estimates, 2007 to 2021 and nonmetropolitan y designations derived from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget’s 2010 Standards of Delineating Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas.

 

The downward trend in poverty rates for nonmetro ies resulted in a decrease in the number of persistent poverty ies as well. Persistent poverty ies for the period ending in 2007–11 are those ies with poverty rates equal to or greater than 20 percent in every decade, as measured by the 1980, 1990, and 2000    Decennial Census and 2007–11 American Community Survey (ACS) 5-year period estimates. Persistent

poverty for the period ending in 2017–217  includes the 1990 and 2000 Decennial Census and ACS 5-year periods 2007–11 and 2017–21. These counties represent areas where poverty conditions have persisted for 30 years or more. In the period ending in 2021, there were 318 (combined metro and nonmetro) persistent  poverty ies, compared with 353 for the period ending in 2011. Overall, there were 282 ies that remained persistently poor from one period to the next, 36 ies that entered  persistent poverty

 

 

7 Estimates for 2020 are constructed using the 5-year period estimates published by the American Community Survey (ACS). The ACS 5-year files pool together years of the survey to release data for detailed geographies.

10    Rural America at a Glance    


 

 

 

status, and 70 ies that left persistent poverty status. Nonmetro ies comprise 84.9 percent (270

ies) of the 318 persistently poor ies for the period ending in 2021. This number includes 244

ies that remained persistently poor since the prior period, 26 persistent poverty entrants, and 55 leavers. The nonmetro ies that entered a persistent poverty area status are largely characterized by poverty    among the resident Hispanic population, as well as re-entrants (previously left persistent poverty status and     then returned) within historically poor areas such as central Appalachia.

These trends suggest that regardless of changing and often challenging macroeconomic conditions between

2007 and 2021, there was some progress toward persistent poverty reduction in nonmetro ies, including those where poverty has historically been intractable.

Figure 6

Change in nonmetropolitan y persistent poverty area status, 2007–21

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nonmetro y changes  in persistent poverty status

 Data not available

 Not persistent poverty both periods  Persistent poverty both periods

 Persistent poverty entrant   Persistent poverty leaver    Metro ies

 

Note: Change in persistent poverty status is d on the comparison of persistent poverty y status for the period ending in  2007–11 (1980, 1990, and 2000 Decennial Census and 2007–11 American Community Survey) to the period ending in 2017-21 (1990,   and 2000 Decennial Census and 2007–11, and 2017–21 American Community Survey). “Data not available” represents low data reli- ability or missing data for one or more data periods.

Source: USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) using USDA, ERS’s Poverty Area Measures data product and nonmetropolitan y designations derived from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget’s 2010 Standards for Delineating Metropolitan and  Micropolitan Statistical Areas.


 

 

 

Housing Insecurity Risk Is Greater for Some Rural Household Groups

 

Housing insecurity is an umbrella term that refers to housing-related problems that contribute to shelter

instability, poverty, and health concerns for individuals and families. This insecurity may include high housing costs relative to income, poor housing quality and housing shortages, overcrowding, lack of safety in the home and neighborhood, and homelessness. The threat of housing insecurity is particularly high for rural house-

holds with low income and historically underserved racial/ethnic population groups.

Housing cost as a percentage of household income is one of the most commonly used measures of housing

affordability. A household is considered to be cost-burdened if that cost percentage exceeds 30 percent and

severely cost-burdened if it exceeds 50 percent. Severe housing cost-burden is a high-risk indicator of shelter    instability. Housing units characterized by substandard housing (lacks full kitchen or plumbing facilities) and  overcrowding (more than one person per room) are associated with greater health and safety risks for residents than units without these characteristics. Renter households in the lowest income categories disproportionately experience these risks.

Over the 5-year period ending in 2019, more than half of extreme low-income (less than or equal to 30

percent of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s [HUD] area median family income     [HAMFI]) nonmetro renter occupied households experienced one or more of four housing unit problems (se- vere housing cost burden, lack of full kitchen facilities, lack of full plumbing facilities, or overcrowding). The   percentage shares were lower for all other nonmetro renter income groups and all nonmetro owner income

groups that experienced one or more of these problems.

 

 

12    Rural America at a Glance    


 

 

 

Figure 7

Compared with homeowners, low-income renters in nonmetropolitan areas are more likely to expe- rience severe housing problems

 

 

Total

 

Higher income Moderate income Low-income

Very low-income Extreme low-income

 






 

0                    10                     20                     30                     40                     50                    60

Percent of housing units with severe housing problems

Note: Income categories are d on U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) area median family income     (HAMFI). Extreme low income is <= 30 percent of HAMFI, very low income is 30.1 to 50 percent of HAMFI, low income is 50.1 to 80  percent of HAMFI, moderate income is 80.1 to 100 percent of HAMFI, and higher income is > 100 percent of HAMFI. Severe housing

unit problems are defined by the household experience of one or more of four problems: lacking complete kitchen facilities, lacking complete plumbing facilities, overcrowding (more than 1 person per room), or severe housing cost burden (monthly housing cost     as a percent of household income exceeds 50 percent). Nonmetropolitan area status is d on U.S. Office of Management and     Budget’s 2010 Standards for Delineating Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas.

Source: USDA, Economic Research Service using data from HUD’s Comprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy (CHAS) data, 2015–19.

 

Over the 5-year period ending in 2019, the share of housing units with severe housing problems for all other    racial groups was about 10 percentage points lower than it was for the American Indian or Alaska Native (24.2

percent) and Hispanic (23.1

percent) groups. An understand- ing of these and other differences in housing insecurity risks can

help inform efforts to ensure that affordable, stable, and livable

housing is available to all people regardless of tenancy, income

level, and racial/ethnic identity.


 

 

 

Figure 8

Severe housing unit problems by race and ethnicity, total renters and owners, all income levels in nonmetropolitan areas over the 2015–19 period

 

 

Total

 

White

 

Black or African American

 

Asian

 

American Indian or Alaska Native Pacific Islander Hispanic

 

 

0                  5                 10                15                20                  25                  30 Percent of housing units with severe housing problems

Note: All race categories are single race (alone), non-Hispanic; the Hispanic category includes any race. Severe housing unit prob-

lems are defined by the household experience of one or more of four problems: lacking complete kitchen facilities, lacking complete plumbing facilities, overcrowding (more than 1 person per room), or severe housing cost burden (monthly housing cost as a percent of household income exceeds 50 percent). Nonmetropolitan area status is d on U.S. Office of Management and Budget’s 2010    Standards for Delineating Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas.

Source: USDA, Economic Research Service using data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Comprehen- sive Housing Affordability Strategy (CHAS) data, 2015–19.

 

Nonmetro Employment Resumed Slow Growth

and Unemployment Rates Reached Record Lows in 2022

 

 

The total number of rural residents employed had not yet recovered to prepandemic levels by early 2023.

Rural employment decreased 10 percent (from 20.2 million to 18.3 million employed) from the first to the

second quarter of 2020, as stay-at-home orders were put in place across much of the Nation in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Employment increased quickly in the third and fourth quarters of 2020 as stay-at-home orders were lifted, but employment remained 3 percent below the prepandemic levels of 2019 in rural areas.     Following the rapid gains in late 2020, rural employment growth slowed to an annual rate of 1.4 percent in

2021 and 0.5 percent in 2022. As of the second quarter of 2023, rural employment stood at 20.2 million people, 1 percent below the prepandemic (fourth quarter, 2019) level of 20.4 million.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14    Rural America at a Glance    


 

 

 

Figure 9

Quarterly employment change in metropolitan and nonmetropolitan ies: first quarter 2019 to second quarter 2023

 

Percent of Q1 2019 employment

104

 

102

 

100

 

98

 

96

 

94

 

92

 

90

 

88

 

86

 

 Metro    Nonmetro

 

 

 

 





Q2    Q3

2019

Q2    Q3

2020

Q2    Q3

2021

Q2    Q3

2022

Q1    Q2

2023

Quarter/Year

Q1 = first quarter; Q2 = second quarter; Q3 = third quarter; Q4 = fourth quarter.

Note: Metropolitan and nonmetropolitan designations are d on the 2013 definition of metropolitan ies as determined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. Data are seasonally adjusted.

Source: USDA, Economic Research Service using data from the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics program (August 2, 2023, release).

 

The impact of the pandemic on unemployment rates affected people in rural and urban areas differently and varied by educational attainment levels. Unemployment rates were slightly higher in rural areas (4.1 percent) than urban areas (3.6 percent) before the pandemic. However, that pattern reversed during the pandemic

when unemployment rates increased to 13.3 percent in urban areas and 11.3 percent in rural areas in the

second quarter of 2020. Unemployment rates remained higher in urban areas throughout 2020 and 2021 as   the economy recovered. Urban workers ages 25 to 64 with less than a bachelor’s degree were particularly af-     fected, as their unemployment rates remained 2.6 percentage points higher in 2021 than the rates were before the pandemic in 2019. In rural areas, the unemployment rate for workers with less than a bachelor’s degree

remained 1.2 percentage points higher in 2021 than in 2019. The unemployment rate for urban workers

with a bachelor’s degree or higher also remained 1.2 percentage points higher in 2021, while the rate for rural workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher was only 0.7 percentage points higher. The urban unemployment   rate dropped below the rural rate once again in the second quarter of 2022. However, at 3.8 percent or less

throughout 2022 and early 2023, rural unemployment rates remained at their lowest point since before 1990.


 

 

 

The slow employment growth rate (0.5 percent) in rural areas in 2022 was similar to the rural growth rates in the years between the Great Recession of 2008 and the COVID-19 pandemic. From 2010 to 2019, the an-

nual average employment growth rate in rural areas was only 0.4 percent compared with 1.6 percent in urban areas. In fact, employment growth during this period was sufficiently low that, by 2019, rural total employ-

ment had still not fully recovered from the Great Recession. Overall, by 2023, the rural economy had mostly   recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic and resumed the familiar employment growth rates from the 2010s.

Figure 10

Nonmetropolitan employment percent change by State, 2019–22

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nonmetro employment

change by percent, 2019–22

 -7.4% to -2.5%  -2.5% to 0%     0% to 2.5%

 2.5% to 7.4%

NA

Note: Metropolitan and nonmetropolitan designations are d on the 2013 definition of metropolitan ies as determined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. Delaware, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Washington, DC have no nonmetropolitan    ies and are therefore omitted from the analysis.

Source: USDA, Economic Research Service using data from the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics program (May 3, 2023, release).

Employment levels for rural areas of the United States had nearly returned to prepandemic levels by the

beginning of 2023, but the rural recovery varied regionally. The rural portion of Idaho had the largest increase in employment from 2019 to 2023, with an increase of 7.3 percent, while employment levels in the rural

portions of Maryland and Illinois decreased by more than 5 percent. Four of the 5 States with the highest

rural employment growth (Idaho, Utah, Montana, and Oregon) were also in the top 10 States with the most  prime-working-age rural population growth during the period. The other State in the top five in employment growth, Alaska, had the largest decrease in rural unemployment rates during the period.

16    Rural America at a Glance    


 

 

Clean Energy Jobs Are 1 Percent of Rural Employment

 

Recent Federal legislation (most notably the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022) provides funding and tax

benefits to promote the development and expansion of a domestic clean energy industry within the United     States. Before this legislation, however, clean energy had already grown  a large industry, creating millions of jobs and comprising about 40 percent of all

energy jobs (U.S. Department of Energy, 2022).     This section analyzes the prevalence of these jobs in rural America.

This report uses the definition of net-zero aligned   jobs (referred to here as “clean energy jobs”) from   the U.S. Department of Energys U.S. Energy and  Employment Report (USEER). This definition in-  cludes jobs in renewable energy; grid technologies and storage; traditional transmission and distribu-  tion; nuclear energy; a subset of energy efficiency;   biofuels; and plug-in hybrid, fully electric, and

hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and components.” Due to the limited availability of y-level data,

however, information related to several notable

industries is excluded from this report, including various aspects of energy efficiency, geothermal

and nuclear electricity generation, traditional

transmission, distribution, and storage in renew-  able energy, and plug-in hybrid and fully electric  vehicles. Therefore, the numbers presented in this report underestimate the total number of clean

energy jobs in rural America, including data only   on renewable energy, biofuels, and select efficiency and transmission and storage technologies.

In 2021, there were more than 243,000 clean energy jobs in nonmetropolitan (nonmetro) ies.8 9  This    number represented more than 1 percent of jobs in rural America. Clean energy jobs in rural areas were well  distributed across all States and regions. The rate of rural clean energy employment reached a high of 26 jobs per 1,000 total jobs in Vermont—with Hawaii, North Dakota, Iowa, and Nevada rounding out the top 5.     Conversely, Arizona has the lowest rate of clean energy employment in rural ies, with less than 5 jobs    per 1,000 total jobs—followed by Arkansas, New Mexico, Virginia, and Mississippi. Considering the num-   ber of jobs rather than the employment rate, Texas led all States with more than 15,000 clean energy jobs in  nonmetropolitan ies.

 

 

 

 

8 USEER reports “<10” jobs in ies when applicable. The U.S. Department of Energy aggregated nonmetropolitan jobs at the State and national level to avoid measurement error using the 2013 OMB definition of metropolitan/nonmetropolitan status d on the 2010 Census.

9 As discussed, the 243,000 clean energy jobs figure is an underestimate of the total number of clean energy jobs due to some omitted industries. USEER y-level data include an Other Fuelsindustry, which includes (among others) nuclear and geothermal energy. The authors estimate     that there are approximately 24,000 jobs in rural America in this industry, although this category would include other energy sources that are not

considered clean energy.


 

 

 

Figure 11

Clean energy employment per 1,000 jobs in nonmetropolitan ies, 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nonmetro clean energy

employment per 1,000 jobs

 4–7.9

 8–11.9     12–15.9   16–19.9  20+

 NA

 

Note: Clean energy jobs include those from wind, solar, and hydroelectric electric power generation; corn ethanol, woody biomass, and other clean fuels; electricity storage; microgrid, smart grid, and other grid modifications; ENERGY STAR efficient lighting;

high-efficiency heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC); and advanced insulation materials. Due to data limitations, jobs are omitted from other clean energy industries, such as geothermal, nuclear energy, traditional transportation, distribution, and storage   for clean energy electric vehicles. Rural jobs are defined using the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) definitions for

nonmetropolitan ies d on data from the 2010 Census. Delaware, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Washington, DC have no nonmetropolitan ies and are therefore omitted from the analysis.

Source: USDA, Economic Research Service using data from the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2022 U.S. Energy and Employment   Report (USEER) and total employment information from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).

 

Clean energy job growth in nonmetropolitan counties differed significantly by industry. Solar jobs grew by almost 10,000 between 2017 and 2018 but declined the following year. In 2021, the solar industry had

29,400 jobs, below its peak of 34,200 in 2018 but aslight increase from 2020. Conversely, corn ethanol jobs remained relatively stable until 2020, when the industry experienced a steep decline due to the COVID-19    pandemic. However, by 2021, corn ethanol jobs rebounded and attained a 5-year high of more than 19,500  jobs. Wind energy employment experienced little change in rural areas through 2020, staying consistently

near 11,000 jobs before increasing to 13,000 jobs in 2021.

 

 

 

 

18    Rural America at a Glance    


 

 

 

Figure 12

Trends in solar, wind, and ethanol in nonmetropolitan ies, 2017–21

 

Total jobs

40,000

 

 

 

30,000

 

 

 

20,000

 

 

 

10,000

 

 

 

0

 

 




 

 Solar    Corn ethanol   . Wind

 

34,200

31,865











29,400

28,422

 

24,588

 


18







18

,761

 

 

 

12




19

,526

 

13,103

,325

18

,356

,645







 




11

,177





11

,016





11

,069





11

,185








 

2017                          2018                       2019                       2020                          2021

Year

Note: Solar and wind include the total of electric power generation (EPG) jobs in all nonmetropolitan ies in each respective

industry. Corn ethanol includes all jobs in nonmetropolitan counties attributed to corn ethanol fuels. Nonmetropolitan jobs are defined  using the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) definitions for nonmetropolitan ies d on data from the 2010 Census. Source: USDA, Economic Research Service using data from the 2021 and 2022 U.S. Department of Energy’s U.S. Energy and

Employment Report (USEER) and y-level data from the 2018, 2019, and 2020 BW Research Partnership’s U.S. Energy and Employment Report.

 

Figure 13 shows how the share of clean energy jobs located in rural areas was similar to the rural share of total employment: 11.3 percent of all clean energy jobs in 2021 were in nonmetropolitan ies, compared with 11.7 percent of total jobs. Most clean energy industries employ a similar share of workers in rural ies.

For example, 11.2 percent of wind energy jobs and 10.8 percent of transmission, distribution, and storage jobs were in nonmetro ies. The solar energy industry skews slightly more toward urban areas, with just 8.8

percent of jobs located in nonmetro ies. Two industries that skew disproportionately toward rural areas   are hydroelectric power (where rural ies employed approximately 16.9 percent of the industry) and corn ethanol (where 36.1 percent of jobs were in nonmetropolitan ies).

The proportion of clean energy jobs in nonmetro ies, although aligning closely with total employment, still lagged behind the share of traditional fossil fuel extraction and generation jobs in nonmetro ies.

For example, about 40 percent of coal jobs were in nonmetro ies. Similarly, rural ies employed 23  percent of petroleum fuel and 25 percent of natural gas jobs in 2021. The scale of nonmetro clean energy jobs is of a similar order of magnitude to those from traditional fossil fuel extraction for the industries included in  the USEER—with more than 243,000 in clean energy jobs compared with about 239,000 jobs in coal, petro- leum, and natural gas extraction and power generation.


 

 

 

Figure 13

Percent of energy jobs in metropolitan and nonmetropolitan ies, 2021

 

Percent of jobs

 

100

 

 

 

 

 

75

 

 

 

 

 

50

 

 

 

 

 

25

 

National

average = 11.7

 

0

Clean energy                                                              Fossil fuels

 


 

 

 Metro   Nonmetro

 




 

 

Industry

TDS = Transmission, distribution, and storage.

Note: The horizontal black dotted line represents the total percent of jobs in nonmetropolitan ies in 2021 (roughly 11.68 per-

cent). Clean energy jobs include those from wind, solar, and hydroelectric electric power generation; corn ethanol, woody biomass, and other clean fuels; electricity storage; microgrid, smart grid, and other grid modifications; ENERGY STAR efficient lighting;

high-efficiency heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC); and advanced insulation materials. Due to data limitations, jobs are omitted from other clean energy industries, such as geothermal, nuclear energy, traditional transportation, distribution, and storage   for clean energy electric vehicles. Fossil fuel jobs include fuel extraction fueljobs and electric power generation, as defined by the  U.S. Department of Energy. Traditional TDS jobs (attributable to renewable and fossil fuel generation) are also excluded. Nonmetro-   politan jobs are defined using the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) definitions for nonmetropolitan ies d on   data from the 2010 Census.

Source: USDA, Economic Research Service using data from the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2022 U.S. Energy and Employment   Report (USEER) and total employment information from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).

 

 

 

 

 

 

20    Rural America at a Glance    


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

 

Changes in rural America’s population, poverty, and employment over the last few years reveal three main

findings. First, the rural population is growing again following a decade of negative or near zero growth rates.   This growth has been driven by domestic migration  rural areas. Second, rural poverty has declined over     the last 15 years in most rural ies, but not all, and the declines have been modest. Housing insecurity is an issue for low-income renters, a particularly acute problem for American Indian or Alaska Native and Hispanic    households. Finally, rural employment has almost fully recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic and has

returned to modest annual growth rates similar to prepandemic levels. This report also found that 1 percent of  nonmetropolitan employment is in clean energy jobs. Overall, recent results show positive developments in the rural economy.




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