- Percent of residents receiving SNAP benefits in 2016 varied across States, reflecting differences in need and program policies
USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) served an average of 44.2 million people per month in fiscal 2016. The percent of Americans participating in the program declined from 15.0 in 2013 to 13.7 in 2016, marking the third consecutive year of a decline in the percent of the population receiving SNAP. Between 2015 and 2016, 41 States and the District of Columbia saw a decrease in the percent of residents receiving SNAP benefits, while 9 States experienced no change or increases. The percent of State populations receiving SNAP benefits ranged from a low of 5.8 in Wyoming to a high of 22.6 in New Mexico, reflecting differences in need and in program policies. Southeastern States have a particularly high share of residents receiving SNAP benefits, with participation rates of 15.0 to 19.5 percent. Kentucky had the largest decline from 2015 to 2016, with the percent of residents receiving SNAP decreasing from 17.4 to 15.0 percent.
- Forty-three percent of households with food-insecure children in 2014-15 had incomes below the Federal poverty line
In 2014-15, 17.9 percent of U.S. households with children under the age of 18 were food insecure—they had difficulty putting enough food on the table for all their members. In about half of these households (8.6 percent of U.S. households with children), children were food insecure and experienced reduced dietary quality and food intake. Food insecurity is closely related to income as poor households are more likely to experience food insecurity. In 2014-15, 43 percent of households with food-insecure children had incomes below the Federal poverty line and one-quarter had incomes between the poverty line and 185 percent of the poverty line. Households with incomes below 185 percent of the poverty line may be eligible for programs like the free- or reduced-price National School Lunch Program. An ERS review of scientific research studies shows that participation in USDA school meals reduces food insecurity. However, about 19 percent of households with food-insecure children in 2014-15 may have been ineligible for such assistance.
Favorable weather conditions as well as droughts and floods can lead to changes in production levels of farm commodities and, in turn, swings in their prices. Volatility in farm commodity prices—measured by the Producer Price Index (PPI) for Farm Products—and in intermediate foods—measured by the PPI for Processed Foodstuff and Feedstuff—is often greater than price volatility in grocery stores and restaurants. Intermediate foods, such as vegetable oils and refined sugar, are used to produce final foods like cookies and bread. Prices at each stage generally move in the same direction, but the magnitude of the price changes varies. For instance, in 2016 the Farm Products PPI declined by 9.7 percent, the Processed Foodstuff and Feedstuff PPI fell by 2.7 percent, while the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for All Food (foods purchased in stores and eating places) rose, slightly, by 0.3 percent. Price fluctuations for intermediate foods and final foods are muted relative to that of farm products, since foods at later stages of production include less volatile costs for processing, transportation, packaging, and other wholesale and retail overhead costs. According to ERS’s Food Dollar Series, farm and agribusiness costs only represented 10.8 cents of every dollar spent on domestically-produced food in 2015.
Although the organic sector shows substantial regional and commodity concentration, all 50 States now have some organic production and processing. In 2015, the United States had 3.2 million acres of certified organic cropland and 2.2 million acres of certified organic pasture (including rangeland). That land accounted for less than 1 percent of all U.S. cropland and pasture, but continued the long-term growth trend in the organic sector. Between 2002 and 2015, U.S. certified organic cropland increased most years. The adoption of organic systems has been relatively higher in some sectors. For example, U.S. markets for organic vegetables, fruits, and herbs have been developing for decades. In 2015, 5 percent of fruit and vegetable acreage was managed under certified organic systems. In contrast, less than 0.3 percent of corn and soybean acreage—the two most widely planted U.S. crops—had adopted organic systems.
- Services—such as finance, real estate, and administration—had the highest share of employment for both rural and urban areas in 2015
In 2015, every industry group, except for farming, employed more workers in urban (metro) areas than in rural (nonmetro) areas. However, the share of employment in each industry varied in each area. For example, farming—counting both self-employed operators and their hired workers—accounted for about 6 percent of all rural employment, compared to 1 percent in urban areas. Manufacturing also employed a larger share of the rural (11 percent) than the urban (6 percent) workforce. Services—such as finance, real estate, and administration—had the highest share of employment for both rural and urban areas. But urban areas had a higher share of employment in services: 57 percent compared to 41 percent in rural areas. Trade, transportation, and utilities had the second highest share of employment, about 17 percent for both rural and urban areas.
The most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey show that workers with higher levels of education had higher median earnings, both in rural and urban areas. Urban workers without a high school diploma earned about the same as their rural counterparts. However, at every higher level of educational attainment, the typical urban worker earned increasingly more than the typical rural worker with the same education. For example, the 2015 premium for working in an urban area was an estimated $2,088 a year for workers with a high school diploma—and $10,534 for those with a bachelor’s degree. Some studies suggest that higher urban earnings may encourage workers to leave rural areas, but factors like family ties and proximity to natural amenities (such as forest and lakes) may help keep or attract workers to rural areas. Educational attainment is only one of many potential characteristics that determine the wages that workers earn. Other characteristics not shown in the chart—such as work experience, job tenure, and ability—may also contribute to earnings.
- Protecting Our Infants Act: Report to Congress
Summary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services response to the Protecting Our Infants Act (2015), including background information about prenatal exposure to opioids; neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS); evidence-based treatment and prevention programs; and suggestions to bridge the gap in barriers to care. Includes examples of successful rural programs and recommended guidelines for the prevention and treatment of opioid use disorder among reproductive age women.
Additional links: Protecting Our Infants Act: Final Strategy
Sponsoring organization: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- Support and Available Options for Small, Underserved, and Rural Practices
New section of the Quality Payment Program (QPP) website, enabling practices with 15 or fewer clinicians to receive free, customized technical assistance, including help choosing and reporting on quality measures, guidance with strategic planning, and support optimizing health information technology.
- Urban-Rural Divide: Mapping Broadband Access
Describes how access to broadband varies across the country. Includes a county-level map of broadband access. Discusses how broadband impacts rural people, including its impact on healthcare access.
Sponsoring organization: Community Commons
The number of people living in rural (nonmetro) counties stood at 46.1 million in July 2016, representing 14 percent of U.S. residents. Population in rural counties continued to decline slightly for a sixth straight year in 2015-16, according to the Census Bureau’s latest estimates. Rural population loss has been relatively small—192,000 fewer people in 2016 compared with 2010, a decline of just 0.4 percent. However, this overall trend masks substantial regional and local variation. Population declined by 790,000 people in the 1,350 rural counties that lost population since 2010. Extensive population-loss regions are evident throughout the Eastern United States. On the other hand, 466 rural counties grew at moderate rates (below the national average of 4.5 percent) and added 245,000 people. Many of these counties are located in recreation or retirement destinations, such as in the Intermountain West or southern Appalachia. The remaining 160 rural counties that increased at rates above 4.5 percent added 353,000 people. The highest rates of growth during 2010-16 occurred in rural counties with booming energy sectors, such as those centered in western North Dakota’s Williston Basin. However, these counties experienced a considerable population slowdown in 2015-16, in line with declines in oil and gas production.
Tuesday, August 1 | 3:00 p.m. ET | 12:00 p.m. PT
Learn about the Small Business Payments Toolkit, a free, newly updated educational resource created by the Business Payments Coalition. Designed for small businesses, the Toolkit will help you learn how to make your incoming and outgoing payments processes more efficient and safer. We’ll cover basic information on payment options and discuss pros and cons of each type.
Tuesday, August 8 | 3:00 p.m. ET | 12:00 p.m. PT
In this second part of the Small Business Payments Toolkit series, we’ll describe current payment fraud schemes that small businesses should watch out for and provide important information on how to avoid being victimized by fraudsters. Your takeaways will include greater awareness of fraud threats and knowledge of fraud prevention tools that can help protect the valuable assets of your small business.
Wednesday, August 16 | 1:00 p.m. ET | 10:00 a.m. PT
Trading "hours for dollars" is an easy way for small business owners to make money, but not the smartest way to leverage your time. In this webinar produced by SCORE, a resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration, attorney John Corcoran will teach you how to “scale up,” including:
- How to add $50-100K in new revenue streams with your existing clients and network
- How to get off the “time for dollar” roller coaster
- 10 income streams you can implement in your business today
- How you can get paid in advance to create your first one-to-many group program or offering (so you can build a more scalable business you love)