Despite declining rural manufacturing employment between 2001 and 2015, the manufacturing sector is relatively more important as a source of employment and earnings to the rural economy than it is to the urban economy. While manufacturing remains concentrated in the Eastern United States, employment has declined in most counties in this region. Rural manufacturing employment and wages vary among the 21 subsectors that comprise the manufacturing sector, with food manufacturing being the largest and also having relatively stable employment levels before, during, and after the recession. Average rural manufacturing wages also varied by subsector, being lowest for textile product/apparel manufacturing and highest for energy products/chemical manufacturing. This report examines the health of the rural manufacturing sector, including employment and wages for various manufacturing industries, during a period that includes a longstanding decline in manufacturing employment and the aftermath of two recessions.


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