The timing of Dean Barber’s commentary on Rural Economic Development couldn’t have been better. We are just off the Florida Rural Economic Summit here in Orlando and getting ready to roll out a Rural Florida marketing campaign following next week’s Enterprise Florida/Team Florida Marketing meetings. So stay tuned.
Here’s Dean’s column in full. A good read for anyone interested in economic development in Rural America.
Published on September 18, 2016 — Featured in: Economy
by Dean Barber
President/CEO at Barber Business Advisors, LLC: Corporate Location Analysis and Economic Development
A report released last week by the Census Bureau showing that Americans, rich, poor and middle class, saw their incomes rise last year was greeted gleefully by economists.
But in rural America, where I have spent much of my time of late doing economic development consulting work, the reaction will be more of a shrug. The government may say the economy is getting better, but many of the people in non-metropolitan counties aren’t feeling it.
Still, the report was eye opening. For the first time since 2007, the median U.S. household saw a healthy bump in income last year — up 5.2 percent to $56,500 from $53,700 in 2014. Much of that gain came from the drop in the unemployment rate that created more paychecks for American workers.
No doubt the economy has improved. Unemployment is at 4.9 percent, down from its October 2009 peak of 10 percent. Home foreclosures have eased dramatically, with 97 percent of major metropolitan areas logging rates below their Great Recession peaks in the first quarter of 2016, according to Realtytrac.com.
By the end of 2015, net private business investment had recovered to pre-recession levels, according to the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank.
A crucial takeaway from the Census report last week was that economic gains were not isolated to the rich. Poor Americans, those at the bottom 10th percentile of the income scale, saw the strongest gains, with 7.9 percent growth over the last year.