Rural Incomes Grow Faster Than Nation

Per capita income in rural America is still only 80 percent of the national average. But from 2009 to 2010, gains in rural counties were faster than the nation as a whole.

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Personal income in rural counties jumped 3.5 percent between 2009 and 2010, outpacing the increase of 2.8 percent in the nation as a whole.

Personal per capita income in rural counties still lagged the averages found in exurban and rural counties. But the gains in 2010 slightly narrowed that gap, according to data released from the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Total per capita income in rural counties is now 80 percent of the national average.

Personal income includes wages, salaries, employer provided health insurance, dividends, interest, Social Security benefits and all other types of income.

Per capita income in rural counties averaged $31,796 in 2010, up from $30,716 in 2009.

Per capita income in exurban counties grew from $33,117 in 2009 to $34,001 in 2010. (Exurban counties are in metropolitan regions, but have about half their populations living in rural settings.)

Per capita income in urban counties rose from $41,340 to $42,445 in this same period.

Rural incomes rose about the same dollar amount as urban counties from 2009 to 2010.

The map above shows the change in personal income in rural counties only. Per capita income dropped in the dark red counties. Only 7.4 percent of rural counties had a decline in personal income from 2009 to 2010.

Light red counties gained income, but at a slower rate than the national average of 2.8 percent. Only 27 percent of rural counties fell into this slow growing category.

The green counties are rural places where personal income rose by more than 2.8 percent from ’09 to 2010. Two-thirds of rural counties beat the national rate.

Click on the map to see a larger version. Or click here.

The chart below shows the continuing gap between rural, urban and exurban incomes. It also shows the decline in income after the onset of the current recession.






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