Rural Development:

Profile of Rural Areas

RCED-93-40FS: Published: Apr 29, 1993. Publicly Released: May 18, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided a demographic and economic profile of rural areas, focusing on: (1) trends in the population and age of persons in nonmetropolitan counties; (2) trends in nonmetropolitan per capita income and employment, and economic activities in nonmetropolitan areas; and (3) the geographic distribution of farm program payments.

GAO found that: (1) the population in rural areas has grown at a much slower rate than in urban areas; (2) The nation's rural population has declined, but the median age of the population has steadily increased in metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas; (3) rural per capita income has been consistently lower than urban per capita income; (4) from 1980 to mid-1992, unemployment was higher in nonmetropolitan areas; (5) the rural economy has become more diverse, since farming is no longer a primary economic activity in most rural areas; (6) 94 percent of all rural counties had farms that received some farm program payments in 1987; and (7) 50 percent of all government payments went to 313,00 farms concentrated in the upper Midwest.

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