Keyword

Accessibility, employment, journey to work, labor, rurality, and transportation

Abstract

Employment and economic growth in rural areas as a policy issue has been recently highlighted by the federal government. In August 2011, the White House released a report entitled “Jobs and Economic Security for Rural America”. While the document listed various programs and policies that have reportedly benefited rural America, it also stated that rural communities are still facing many challenges. For example, many rural communities have lower incomes and higher poverty rates than more urban areas. One possible reason for rural communities being at a disadvantage compared to urban areas involves transportation, especially in terms of journey to work. Thus, one can ask how employment rates vary with accessibility, as measured by journey to work times, as well as location (rural versus urban). Using 2007 state level data, OLS analysis is used to examine the relationship between employment rates and journey to work times and rurality. The analysis confirms that employment rates decrease with increased journey to work times. However, measures of rurality were only marginally significant and the negative coefficient on each measure indicates that employment rates decrease with greater urbanization. Improving accessibility between (very) rural and larger areas might improve employment opportunities. Although weighing the benefits of such (reduced unemployment) against the costs of providing better highways or public transit might lead to a different conclusion.


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