Reviving Rural Economies

March 31, 2017 • Volume 27, Issue 12
Can they make a comeback?
By Alan Greenblatt


One of the few remaining steelworkers relaxes after work (Getty Images/Corbis/Andrew Lichtenstein)
One of the few remaining steelworkers in Braddock, in western Pennsylvania, relaxes after work on Oct. 12, 2016. The once thriving steel town all but collapsed after the demise of the U.S. steel industry in the 1970s and '80s. With only one steel mill remaining, the community is trying to revive its fortunes as a center for the arts. (Getty Images/Corbis/Andrew Lichtenstein)

Rural areas have been shedding jobs and population for decades, but the problems are growing worse. Farm consolidation has reduced the number of agricultural jobs, while thousands of factories in rural areas have closed due to automation and overseas competition. Although some rural communities are doing well, hundreds have high levels of poverty and unemployment. Because of the poor economic prospects, rural counties typically lose up to a third of their high school classes within two years of graduation as young adults flee to metropolitan areas where jobs are more plentiful. Those left behind tend to be older, and many have severe health problems. Addiction and suicide are on the rise, and life expectancy is dropping. During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump pledged to bring manufacturing and mining jobs back to such areas, which voted overwhelmingly for him. But some observers warn that his policies on immigration, trade and health care, as well as his proposed budget cuts, could hurt rural America.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Rural America
Dec. 13, 2019  Rural Health
Mar. 31, 2017  Reviving Rural Economies
May 09, 2003  Crisis on the Plains
Jul. 20, 1990  The Continuing Decline of Rural America
May 06, 1988  Should Family Farms Be Saved?
Nov. 23, 1979  Rural Health Care
Aug. 15, 1975  Rural Migration
Feb. 09, 1939  Economic Changes in the Southern States
Agricultural Research
Congress Actions
Economic Crises
Economic Development
General Employment and Labor
Manufacturing and Industrial Production
Outsourcing and Immigration
Small Business
Undergraduate and Graduate Education
Unemployment and Employment Programs
Unions and Labor-Management Relations
Vocational and Adult Education