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Chicago Fed Letter, No. 109, September 1996
The Performance of Seventh District Food Processing

The performance of the U.S. rural economy has varied significantly from that of urban areas in recent years. After growing at a rate similar to urban areas in the 1970s, rural America fell behind in the 1980s. However, a look at some broad measures of population and income growth suggests the rural economy is picking up steam in the current decade. In general, recent gains for rural areas have closely paralleled, and in some cases even exceeded, those of urban areas. In particular, rural population growth has experienced a remarkable turnaround in this decade. The changing fortunes of rural areas naturally raise questions about the factors that have prompted the recent improvement. For example, how do the changes in agriculture, manufacturing, and other sectors affect the economic welfare of rural residents? And more importantly, can the recent improvement in rural economic performance be sustained? The answers to these questions will help rural residents and policymakers cope with change and find prosperity in the future.

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