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Press Release

What’s driving rural employment growth? A study of trends in four states

A new analysis of rural employment trends in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and West Virginia finds generally slow employment growth but some relative success stories in nonmetropolitan counties that have specialized in manufacturing.

In “Rural Employment in Four States: A Story of Specialization and Change (2010 through 2019),” Matt Klesta, senior community development analyst, notes several patterns:

  • The rate of growth in Fourth District nonmetropolitan counties (4.2 percent) was comparable to that of nonmetropolitan counties across the United States (5.4 percent). However, this rate was significantly less than the 9 percent growth in Fourth District metropolitan counties and well below the national metropolitan average of 17 percent.
  • Some nonmetropolitan counties in Ohio and parts of Kentucky that have specialized in manufacturing experienced growth in total employment of 10 percent and 6 percent, respectively, from 2010 through 2019.
  • Specialization in declining industries can exacerbate employment declines in a region: Eastern Kentucky has seen a sustained and significant loss of natural resources and mining jobs—a 60 percent decline from 2010 through 2019.

Read the full report: Rural Employment in Four States: A Story of Specialization and Change (2010 through 2019)

Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland is one of 12 regional Reserve Banks that along with the Board of Governors in Washington DC comprise the Federal Reserve System. Part of the US central bank, the Cleveland Fed participates in the formulation of our nation’s monetary policy, supervises banking organizations, provides payment and other services to financial institutions and to the US Treasury, and performs many activities that support Federal Reserve operations System-wide. In addition, the Bank supports the well-being of communities across the Fourth Federal Reserve District through a wide array of research, outreach, and educational activities.

The Cleveland Fed, with branches in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, serves an area that comprises Ohio, western Pennsylvania, eastern Kentucky, and the northern panhandle of West Virginia.

Media contact

Doug Campbell,, 513.455.4479