Rural Iowa at a Glance 2022

CATEGORIES: publications

Publication summarizes current demographic, economic, and farm trends for Iowa’s metro, micropolitan, and rural areas. Easy to understand charts show trends between 2011 to 2021. Purpose is to quickly inform policymakers and the public about key issues facing Iowa. Indicators include: population and migration, income and poverty, labor force participation and unemployment, jobs and earnings, self-employed businesses, farm classes from residence to commercial, and farm income and debt.

Download the report here: SOC 3104.PDF

Pages / Length: 24
Publication Date: 10/2022
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Key Findings

  • COVID-19 slowed population losses in non-metro Iowa as fewer people migrated out of small cities and towns.
  • Over the past decade, the non-metro white population shrunk by -7%, but losses were offset by a 5% gain in persons of color, resulting in a net loss of only 2%.
  • The pandemic eliminated many jobs statewide, where labor force participation rates fell sharply and unemployment rates rose rapidly. Metro cities and micros lost 4-5% of their jobs in the past year alone.
  • There are fewer jobs in rural and micropolitan Iowa today than in 2011. There was also a large loss of self-employed small businesses and self-employed farmers.
  • Micropolitan cities have low employment participation and high unemployment, suggesting many have stopped looking for work.
  • Despite job losses, non-metro incomes have grown due to wage gains and government payments. This should blunt some of the effects of high inflation.
  • Only 22% of Iowa’s 83,000 farms are commercial operations, but they operate 66% of the farmland and generate 89% of production value.
  • Commercial net farm income grew last year and debt-to-asset ratios are low. However, midsize farms are at 91% of debt utilization.