ACR America at work blog Part 4 v2

Redefining the Rural American Workforce

In our 4-part blog series, “America at Work,” we’re taking a look at workforce trends and perspectives across the United States.


Have you ever heard of the Center for American Progress? It’s an independent, nonpartisan policy institute that is “dedicated to improving the lives of all Americans.” In a recent article, authors Olugbenga Ajilore and Zoe Willingham redefine rural America with regard to its industry, demographic, and economic data.

In this blog, we’re pairing some key points from the article with our own advice to help rural job seekers and recruiters prepare for the future workforce.


1. Unemployment in rural areas is still high.

Despite the nation’s generally low unemployment rate, rural America’s employment numbers are worse than they were right up until the 2008 recession. To be clear, “deep poverty persists in many rural communities.” As a consequence, a severe lack of internet is crippling employment and economic opportunities for rural Americans.


What job seekers can do

What recruiters can do

According to CNN Business, rural Americans can apply for federal grants that would pay for internet access, which would dramatically improve their job search capabilities.Consider pairing up with local schools and other institutions to host internet-connected job fairs in your area. What non-internet-based recruitment efforts do you have in place?


2. Rural industries mean more than just farming.

“While agriculture, manufacturing, and mining are important to many rural communities, they are not necessarily synonymous with rural America [at] large.” In fact, the largest share of employment in rural (nonmetro) counties actually belongs to the service industry, which includes:

Hospitality and Tourism • Arts • Healthcare • Food • Administration • Education • Financial Services • Professional Services • Transportation


What job seekers can do

What recruiters can do

Learn more about careers in the service industry and determine if it’s the right path for you. If you’re interested in a more “traditional” rural job, such as manufacturing, be aware that these jobs are more accessible in rural counties that are adjacent to metro areas. Study up on the current job situation in your rural designation and focus your search on job seekers with relevant criteria. To attract people from urban areas, write compelling job descriptions that highlight the benefits of living in rural areas, convincing them to relocate.


3. Green technology could revive rural jobs.

“The decline of the manufacturing and mining industries need not spell doom for rural communities, especially if lawmakers pass policies that promote investments in emerging industries, such as green technology.” Granted, most of us don’t have the political power to pass policies. But as advocates of clean energy and job creation, we can prepare ourselves for a meaningful presence in the future workforce.

How? Consider this: the two fastest growing jobs in America are solar panel installers and wind turbine service technicians. What’s more, typical blue-collar types of workers have the skill set to make a smooth transition from careers in coal, oil, and gas to these up-and-coming jobs in clean energy.


What job seekers can do

What employers can do

To promote these jobs in rural areas, explore grant opportunities from the Rural Energy for America Program.As these job opportunities grow in rural areas, be on the lookout to convert experience oil, gas, and other typical “blue-collar” types of workers in rural areas.


Despite the challenges presented to workers in rural America, job seekers and job recruiters in these communities can:

  • Overcome unemployment by way of internet access and community involvement
  • Explore job opportunities in the services sector, which leads the rural job market
  • Make use of old-school industrial skills when transitioning to clean energy careers


For more news, notes, and tips from Acara Solutions, visit our resources page. And don’t forget to check us out on TwitterLinkedInFacebook, and Instagram.