Skip to main content

amber waves

What Explains the Recent Rise in Rural Child Poverty?

During the 1950s and 1960s, the adage “a rising tide lifts all boats” broadly applied to the U.S. economy. As average income grew, the share of the population living in poverty fell rapidly. In the 1970s and 1980s, however, this relationship changed: average income continued to rise, but poverty increased. This means that incomes actually fell for many families in the lower portion of the income distribution. In other words, income inequality increased, and this translated into higher poverty despite a growing economy.

Recent work by USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) shows that this dynamic persists, and helps explain trends in poverty among children in rural areas. According to official estimates, the share of rural children living in poverty grew between 2003 and 2007 even as the national economy expanded. Between 2007 and 2010, this share continued to increase, as might be expected given the profound economic recession of 2007-09. But the rural child poverty rate continued to rise through 2012, peaking at 26.7 percent, its highest level since at least 1968 -- despite the resumption of economic growth at the national level. The rate finally began to decline between 2012 and 2014, but the 2014 level was well above that of 2003.

The Case for Rural Wealth Creation

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Economic Research Service (ERS) economists may not wear trench coats and fedoras, but we are investigating significant developments affecting rural America.  In a new book, Rural Wealth Creation, which I co-edited with Bruce Weber, Tom Johnson, and Matt Fannin, we examined the role of wealth, which includes physical, financial, human, natural, social and other forms of assets, in achieving sustainable rural prosperity.

Strong communities depend upon strong local and regional economies, and prosperous local and regional economies depend on the creation, retention, and distribution of wealth, broadly defined. Wealth contributes to people’s well-being in many ways beyond increasing income. For example, many forms of wealth can provide resilience in tough economic times or enhance the ability of rural people to pursue innovative new opportunities.

Back to School with Statistics, Join USDA's Virtual Open House

A new academic year is here for millions of students and teachers across the country, and in spirit of the many back to school nights and open houses taking place, I’m encouraging you to explore USDA’s International Year of Statistics Virtual Open House.

The International Year of Statistics, sponsored by more than 2,000 organizations – including the USDA - is a worldwide event to help teach everyone about the powerful and far-reaching effects of statistics. When people hear the word “statistics,” they often think of sports statistics or the course they took and struggled to pass. While you can think of statistics in these terms, there is more to the relationship between you and statistics than you may imagine.

USDA Meets Digital Government Strategy Milestone with Mobile and Open Data Solutions

As part of USDA’s 12-month Digital Government Strategy deliverables we are sharing several new mobile and open data projects that help us deliver 21st century service to you, our customers and stakeholders. These new tools and open data efforts will enable USDA customers, to more easily access critical programs and services anywhere, any time and on any device, in addition to stimulating further innovations:

Tap Into ERS Magazine Anywhere, Anytime

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA's rich science and research profile.

Amber Waves, the flagship magazine of the Economic Research Service has embraced the digital age with its recent launch of a mobile application that readers can download free on iPads and other tablets. It’s among the first government magazines to be available via a mobile app. Readers can now access the magazine on the bus or metro, on a plane, in the classroom – essentially anywhere and anytime - with a touch to their screen.