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New USDA reports explore rural innovation and manufacturing

Posted: October 16, 2017

The USDA Economic Research Service recently released two reports that explore rural innovation and rural manufacturing, respectively. The authors found that innovation is widespread in rural areas, especially in the manufacturing sector, and that manufacturing is very important to the rural economy, providing more jobs and higher earnings than other sectors like farming and mining.

Cover of ERS report on rural innovation

Innovation in the Rural Nonfarm Economy: Its Effect on Job and Earnings Growth, 2010-2014 was written by ERS Regional Economist Tim Wojan and ERS Sociologist Timothy Parker. Wojan also is a member of the NERCRD Board of Directors. Using data from the 2014 Rural Establishment Innovation Survey, Wojan and Parker found that innovation was widespread in rural areas, particularly in manufacturing. The authors also explored how quickly more innovative industries or regions recovered from recession.

Cover from ERS report on rural manufacturing

In the 2017 edition of Rural Manufacturing at a Glance, and a related report, Rural Manufacturing Resilience: Factors Associated With Plant Survival, 1996-2011, ERS Economist Sarah Low reports on the importance of manufacturing to the rural economy. For example, despite an overall decline in manufacturing jobs, these jobs represented 14 percent of rural private nonfarm jobs in 2015, and earnings from these jobs accounted for 21 percent of rural private non-farm earnings.