A publication of AAEA

A publication of AAEA
Rural Development Implications One Year after COVID-19

Rural Development Implications One Year after COVID-19

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Theme Overview: Rural Development Implications One Year after COVID-19

Jane Kolodinsky and Stephan J. Goetz

This theme issue of Choices, commissioned by the Council on Food, Agriculture and Resource Economics (C-FARE), in collaboration with the Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development on behalf of the Regional Rural Development Centers (RRDCs), includes eight papers that examine impacts of the pandemic and effects of selected federal policies designed to mitigate adverse impacts. Topics include: employment and job loss trends, impacts on agriculture, and impacts on other sectors of the economy, including tourism, childcare, banking, broadband, and healthcare facilities.

Lost and Found? Job Loss and Recovery in Rural America during COVID-19

Seung Jin Cho, Jun Yeong Lee, and John V. Winters

COVID-19 led to widespread job losses and only partial recovery during 2020. Rural workers were less adversely impacted than urban workers early in the pandemic. We discuss the path of employment recovery for rural areas, how they fare relative to urban areas, and differences across rural areas by infection levels.

Impact of the Paycheck Protection Program on U.S. Producers

Anil K. Giri, Dipak Subedi, E. Wesley F. Peterson, and Tia M. McDonald

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is designed to offset employee wages and other costs incurred by small businesses, including agricultural enterprises. This article compares PPP loan coverage amounts with hired farm labor expenditures. Low participation rates might have affected the impact of PPP in rural areas of the United States.

Rural Counties That Rely on Dairy and Animal Agriculture Saw Higher Unemployment Rates due to COVID-19

Andrew W. Stevens and Daniel W. Bromley

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted high unemployment rates throughout the country. However, rural counties with more labor-intensive agriculture (relatively more animal agriculture, dairy, etc.) were hit harder than rural counties with less labor-intensive agriculture (relatively more crops). The COVID-19 impact on rural unemployment has not been shared equally.

Exploring the Implications of Increased Rural Trail Use During the COVID-19 Pandemic on Health, Planning, Equity and Inclusivity

Laura E. Brown, Molly Basak-Smith, Kimberly Bradley, Stacey F. Stearns, Anita T. Morzillo, and Sohyun Park

Use of trails in rural communities across the country has surged since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. This paper explores implications of increased trail use during COVID-19 for rural communities including trail and environmental management, health and economic implications, equity and access.

After COVID-19, Will Child Care Survive in Rural Areas?

Elizabeth E. Davis, Hasan K. Tosun and Mallory Warner-Richter

This article highlights trends in child care closures in rural Minnesota before and during the pandemic. Minnesota provided grants to child care providers that have helped many remain open. These funds have supported the infrastructure necessary to ensure that child care is available in rural areas as the economy rebounds.

USDA’s Community Facilities Program May Help Rural America Cope with COVID-19

Julia H. Cho and Anil Rupasingha

We detail the USDA’s Community Facilities (CF) Program investments to health facilities in rural communities during 2016–2020 and investigate the impact of the program on COVID-19 death rate in the CF health-funded counties. We find that rural counties that received CF funds coped better with the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19, the Accelerated Adoption of Digital Technologies, and the Changing Landscape of Branch Banking

Wade H. Litt

Through its rapid acceleration of digitalization, COVID-19 is affecting the banking industry in many ways. This paper explores how historical bank digitalization and efficiency gains influenced branch closures in the United States from 2009 to 2020, and results indicate that we may see an increase in post-pandemic branch closures.

COVID-19 and Rural Broadband: A Call to Action or More of the Same?

Brian E. Whitacre

The COVID-19 pandemic brought renewed attention to broadband, and the federal response included significant funding for this issue. Rural experiences with schooling and healthcare during the pandemic demonstrate that addressing the digital divide is not a short-term process.