Statement by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Rural America at a Glance, 2016 Edition
WASHINGTON—Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today released the following statement on Rural America at a Glance, 2016 Edition, an annual report by USDA's Economic Research Service:
"At the depths of the Great Recession, rural counties were shedding 200,000 jobs per year, rural unemployment stood at nearly 10 percent, and poverty rates reached heights unseen in decades. Many rural communities were ill-positioned to bounce back quickly.
"Over the course of the Obama Administration, USDA has made targeted Federal investments in rural areas to create jobs, generate economic opportunity, and strengthen rural communities. This strategy, focused on production agriculture, the biobased economy, local and regional food systems, and conservation and natural resources, is helping the rural economy retool itself for the 21st century.
"Today's report underscores the result of these efforts: rural America has begun a remarkable comeback. Key economic indicators continue to show that rural America is rebounding. Rural unemployment continued to decline in 2015, dropping below 6 percent for the first time since 2007, and rural poverty rates have fallen. Median household incomes in rural areas increased by 3.4 percent in 2015, and rural populations have stabilized and are beginning to grow. Child food insecurity nationwide is at an all-time low.
"The future of rural America looks much brighter today than when President Obama took office. The incredible results highlighted in the new report demonstrate how long-term government investment and positive partnerships with public institutions are central to rural America's continued progress."
The Rural America at a Glance, 2016 Edition report can be viewed on the ERS website. To read more about USDA's investments in rural America and its successful turnaround, visit USDA's entry on Medium.com, Rural America Is Back in Business.