The 2015 edition of Rural America at a Glance shows that the pace of employment growth in rural areas increased in 2014, though rural employment remains below pre-recession levels.
Rural areas also are continuing to experience population loss and higher poverty rates than metro areas, along with lower education attainment, said the report, prepared by the Economic Research Service.
Despite challenges, there is good news: rural population decline did not increase over the past year and some rural counties have seen population growth; and the rural child poverty rate has declined by one percentage point.
"Today's report reflects a rural America on the road to recovery," USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said, highlighting continued need for investments in rural people and places.
"USDA's nutrition programs, the StrikeForce Initiative for Rural Growth and Opportunity, and the Rural Impact effort, which focuses on a multi-generational approach to public and private investments in rural families and communities, work together to address persistent rural poverty, particularly among children," he said.
Other initiatives include the USDA's Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund, which expands access to credit and capital, and the Small Business Administration's $2 billion credit availability increase.
"Collectively, these investments work to attract and retain a talented rural labor force, make rural communities more competitive, and support the businesses and families that call America's rural areas home," Vilsack said.
In addition to figures on employment and education, the report features statistics on poverty and race. The full Rural America at a Glance, 2015 Edition report can be viewed on the USDA website.
Take a look at some of the findings from the report: