Higher Income Earners in Rural Areas

Nov 1, 2016

A sociologist at Iowa State University has uncovered something that goes against common belief. He says income levels in rural areas of the state are higher than in the urban centers.

An Iowa State sociologist finds income levels in rural areas are higher than in urban centers, largely because people commute to city jobs.
Credit Michael Leland, Iowa Public Radio

Extension rural sociologist David Peters has studied census data on income and poverty levels nationwide, and he has broken it down state-by-state. He finds the median household income in rural areas of Iowa is a bit more than $60,000, 11 percent higher than in cities. He says one reason may be three-quarters of Iowa farms are so-called “hobby farms.”

“A lot of these people have 10-to-15 acres and they commute to large cities, and they have very high off-farm incomes,” he says.

Some residents, Peters adds, are creating their own jobs.

“The rate of self-employment and entrepreneurship in rural Iowa is higher than in other parts of the United States,” he says.

Peters plans to keep an eye on the data to see if continued low commodity prices eventually affects rural incomes. 

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