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Rural Job Growth Shifting to High-skill Workers

Over the last two decades, the strongest rural job gains were in smaller industries that tend to employ high-skill workers.

USDA Economic Research Service reports the highest growth was in the real estate industry. Also showing rapid growth was the administrative services industry, which includes office administration, facilities support, business support services, security services, conventions and trade shows, and waste management and treatment.

Other rural industries that grew over the past two decades were health care and social assistance; professional, scientific, and technical services; educational services; and finance and insurance. The growth of these industries represented a shift in rural production toward industries that employ higher shares of high-skill workers.

Consistent with this shift, the percent of rural college-educated workers increased from 21.5 percent in 2012 to 23.8 percent in 2019. However, these rates have remained lower than the share of college-educated urban workers, at 38 percent in 2019.

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