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Rural Conditions and Trends:
Rural Industry Issue

Volume 7, Number 1

Editors: Linda Ghelfi lghelfi@ERS.USDA.gov
and Doug Bowers dbowers@ERS.USDA.gov

Rural Economy Division.


Rural industries continue to fare well as the national economy grows following the 1990-91 recession. Employment in most rural industries increased in the early 1990's. The exceptions were farm and mining employment, which fell, and employment in finance, insurance, and real estate, which held steady. Overall, rural job growth has outpaced urban growth. The earnings gap between urban and rural jobs narrowed in 1993 for the first time since 1979, suggesting that rural earnings may at least be starting to hold their own relative to urban earnings. Population in rural areas has also rebounded as migration from urban to rural locations has overtaken rural-urban migration. The national economy's slower growth during 1995 may have affected rural areas less than urban because of strong exports and durable goods manufacturing, both of which are important to rural areas.

These trends are a change from the 1980's when urban areas held a clear advantage in job, earnings, and population growth. Coming off a prosperous decade in the 1970's, rural areas in the 1980's suffered from the 1980-81 recessions, foreign competition in manufacturing and agriculture, and a farm financial crisis which reduced land values and forced many highly leveraged farmers out of business.

This issue of Rural Conditions and Trends provides detailed information on rural industries. Some of the articles include information on value of production, productivity, or value of exports, adding to our understanding of employment conditions in rural industries. The articles report on current trends in farm-related industries, mining, manufacturing, retailing, banking, and government. Additional articles discuss recent changes in the general economy which affect rural areas and the significance of international trade to rural areas.

(This issue was released in July 1996.)

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