USDA: Manufacturing relatively more important in rural areas of U.S.

By Sarah Low, USDA

Sep 12, 2017

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Compared to urban areas, in 2015, manufacturing represented a greater share of both private nonfarm rural jobs (14 percent vs. 7 percent) and rural earnings (21 percent vs. 11 percent). A new report from USDA’s Economic Research Service, Rural Manufacturing at a Glance, examines the manufacturing sector in rural America.

Manufacturing jobs in rural areas totaled about 2.5 million jobs in 2015 and pay relatively well; among all rural sectors, only mining had higher median earnings.

Overall, manufacturing is no longer the driver of job growth that it once was. Between 2001 and 2015, a period that included two recessions (in 2001 and 2007-09), manufacturing employment fell close to 30 percent. In addition, 71 percent of U.S. counties experienced a decline in manufacturing employment. Counties with the largest relative declines were concentrated in the eastern United States, the traditional hub of U.S. manufacturing.

Despite the relative importance of manufacturing to the rural economy, economic restructuring is altering job opportunities for rural areas of the country. Rural manufacturing employment was smaller both in relative and absolute terms in 2015 than in 2001. There were 21 percent fewer manufacturing jobs while total employment grew almost 7 percent. That is, manufacturing employment became a smaller piece of a larger pie.

Read the full post at usda.gov.

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