Rural Research Briefs are a series of data and findings from the recently released decennial Census and American Community Survey (ACS), highlighting various social, economic, and housing characteristics of rural Americans.

Rental Housing in Rural America Research Brief

Rental Housing in Rural America

In this Rural Research Note, HAC gives an overview of rental housing and renters in rural America. There are more than 17 million people living in approximately 7.1 million renter-occupied homes in rural communities. Nearly 43 percent of rural renters occupy single-family homes – twice the rate of urban renters. Slightly fewer rural renters (41 percent) live in structures of two or more apartments. Housing affordability problems are especially problematic for rural renters. A full 47 percent of rural renters are cost burdened, and nearly half of them are paying more than 50 percent of their monthly incomes for housing. With demographic transformations, the need for adequate and affordable rental housing looms large for many rural communities. Affordable rental options are vitally necessary, yet in short supply in rural America.

Rural Research Note: Rental Housing in Rural America

Communities impacted by Eligibility Cover

Communities Possibly Impacted by USDA Eligibility Changes

Rural Research Brief: USDA Eligibility Impact

In June 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a list of more than 900 communities that may no longer be eligible for Rural Development (RD) housing assistance based on population increase and changes in rural composition and character. The proposed communities that may become ineligible are located in 420 counties across 49 states and territories.

The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) investigated recent USDA-RD loan and program activity in areas that are slated for change in their eligibility status. It is important to note that RD obligation data are not available for the specific communities that may become ineligible. This brief provides a general indication of possible impacts to communities that may lose their USDA eligibility status.

Rural Economies and Industry Research Brief

Rural Economies and Industry

Rural Economies and Industry

rrn-econ-cover-thbHAC’s seventh Rural Research Note takes a brief look into rural America’s economies and industries. Rural economies, and people in general, are often perceived as being heavily reliant on farming and other natural resource industries. While it is true that the majority of these industries are located in rural places, they employ only 5.5% of rural and small town workers. Overall, the sector-by-sector employment profile of rural America is surprisingly similar to that of suburban and urban America.

This Rural Research Note presents employment data and maps that highlight the similarities, and differences, between rural America and more densely populated regions. Additionally, the effects of large agribusiness are explored within the context of small family farming.

July 2012

Homeownership in Rural America

Homeownership in Rural America

rrn-ho-thumbIn its fifth Rural Research Note, HAC examines Homeownership in Rural America . In rural and small town communities, homeownership rates are even higher than the national level. In 2010, approximately 17.9 million, or 71.6 percent of occupied homes in rural communities were owned by their inhabitants. Consistent with national trends, the rural homeownership rate declined by two percentage points from the year 2000.

This research note includes analysis of:

  • Homeownership across the rural spectrum;
  • True homeownership rates in rural America; and
  • Homeownership rates decline between 2000 and 2010.
Poverty in Rural America Research Brief

Poverty in Rural America


HAC has conducted extensive research on poverty in rural America, including:

Housing Occupancy Research Brief Cover

Housing Occupancy and Vacancy in Rural America

Seasonal and Recreational Homes Contribute to Higher Housing Vacancy Rates in Rural & Small Town America

According to the 2010 Census, there are just over 30 million housing units in rural and small town communities, making up 23 percent of nation’s housing stock. Of these, approximately 25 million, or 82 percent, of rural homes are occupied. Housing vacancy rates in rural and small town areas are approximately 7 percentage points higher than the national level. Much of the higher vacancy rate in rural areas is due to the number of homes unoccupied for seasonal, recreational, or occasional use. In fact, nearly 60 percent of all vacant seasonal, or recreational homes nationwide are located in rural and small town areas. Additionally, the number of housing units in rural and small town communities increased by nearly 3 million (11 percent) between 2000 and 2010.

For more information on this issue, check out HAC’s newest Rural Research Note: Housing Occupancy and Vacancy in Rural America (PDF)

Race and Ethnicity in Rural America Research Brief

Race and Ethnicity in Rural America

Race & Ethnicity in Rural America is the third in a series of Rural Research Briefs presenting data and findings from the recently released 2010 Census and American Community Survey (ACS). HAC’s Research Note examines racial and ethnic characteristics of rural America, including trends and demographic shifts that have occurred since the 2000 census. This publication includes:

    • Figures on race and ethnicity in rural America;
    • An analysis of racial and ethnic minorities in rural and small town areas;
    • Population growth figures by race and ethicity.

Race and Ethnicity in Rural America (PDF)

Population Change in Rural America

The 2010 Census revealed a population of 308 million people in the United States. This figure represents a population increase of roughly 27million, or a 9.7 percent from the year 2000. The nation’s population growth over the past decade was lower than in the 1990‐2000 period, when the national population grew by 13 percent. A variety of factors, including the recent economic downturn, reduced immigration, as well as other demographic factors, are largely responsible for this moderated population growth.

In this research brief, HAC provides and overview of the rural population, details population change in rural and small town areas, and provides state by state figures on rural population change.

Population Change in Rural America, (PDF)

Rurality in the United States

Rurality in the United States, (PDF)

For most of the nation’s history, the United States has been a predominately rural place. In 1790 the first U.S census revealed that 95 percent of the population resided in rural areas. The populous remained largely rural throughout much of the 19th century, but settlement patterns started to shift rapidly in the early 20th century in response to an increasingly urban-oriented economy. In 1920, the census reported, for the first time, that more than half of the U.S. population lived in urban areas. From this point until today, the trend towards urbanization in this nation has been unabated.

In this research note HAC analyzes what it means to be rural, how much of the US population lives in rural areas, and explains its definition of rural.