Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
March 30, 2015

Rural America Still Suffering

The Department of Agriculture’s annual survey of rural America reveals that for the first time non-metropolitan areas experienced population decline and although “employment began to recover in 2010, with nonmetro and metro areas initially exhibiting similar trends, … job growth has since stalled in nonmetro counties.”

As noted in the Washington Post analysis: “The bifurcation adds another dimension to the widening political and social urban-rural divide. The Department of Agriculture has a whole division devoted to rural issues, which is aimed at fixing the jobs problem through initiatives such as farming cooperatives and infrastructure development. But the long-term problem might be more structural in nature, as the USDA suggests in its finding that suburbanization is slowing down:

‘The housing mortgage crisis slowed suburban development and contributed to an historic shift within metro regions, with outlying metro counties now growing at a slower rate than central counties. Similarly, nonmetro counties adjacent to metro areas that had been growing rapidly from suburban development for decades declined in population for the first time as a group during 2010-12. This period may simply be an interruption in suburbanization or it could turn out to be the end of a major demographic regime.'”

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