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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.