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HPPR Economy and Enterprise

Correction: Rural Income is Growing, After All

Brendan Smialowski/Agence France-Presse
Getty Images

HPPR recently reported on a story about how, according to Census Bureau statistics, rural America is stagnating while cities are booming. But this weekend The New York Times took issue with this narrative and insisted that, in fact, income in rural America is growing, too.

The debate is about two lines in the recent Census Bureau report. According to the study, while incomes in metropolitan areas grew six percent, those in rural areas fell by two percent.

But according to policy experts who studied the census numbers very closely, the rural number is wrong. In fact, instead of dropping two percent, median household incomes in rural America actually grew by almost three and a half percent.

So what happened? The bureau’s study relied on mistaken algorithms that weren’t devised to provide solid estimates in fine-grained geographic detail.