Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday released the following statement on Rural America At A Glance, 2015 Edition, an annual report by USDA’s Economic Research Service:
“Today’s report reflects a rural America on the road to recovery. Rural employment has increased; rural population decline did not increase over the past year and some rural counties have seen population growth; and the rural child poverty rate has declined by one percentage point. These trends are promising.
“The report also demonstrates the continued need for targeted investments in rural people and places. USDA’s nutrition programs, the StrikeForce Initiative for Rural Growth and Opportunity, and the Rural Impact effort, which focuses on a multi-generational approach to public and private investments in rural families and communities, work together to address persistent rural poverty, particularly among children. At the same time, the Administration continues to look for innovative ways to spur rural job and business growth, including expanding access to credit and capital through USDA’s Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund and the Rural Business Investment Companies, and the Small Business Administration’s commitment to increasing credit to rural small businesses by $2 billion.
“Collectively, these investments work to attract and retain a talented rural labor force, make rural communities more competitive, and support the businesses and families that call America’s rural areas home.”
An important indicator of economic recovery is employment. After several years of stagnation, the pace of employment growth in rural areas increased in 2014. Employment gains were significantly higher over the past year compared to previous years in the recovery period, although rural employment remains below pre-recession levels. Rural areas continue to experience population loss, higher poverty rates, and lower educational attainment than urban areas.
The rest of The Rural America at a Glance, 2015 Edition report can be viewed at http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/eib-economic-information-bulletin/eib-145.aspx. To see how USDA has invested in rural communities across the country, visit www.usda.gov/opportunities.