Profiling Rural America: A Guide to Data Sources and Analytical Techniques

Sheila A. Martin, Richard McHugh
September 1991  [91-TR 21]

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Martin, S.A. and R. McHugh. 1991. "Profiling Rural America: A Guide to Data Sources and Analytical Techniques." Technical report 91-TR 21. Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, Iowa State University.


Evaluating the economic conditions of local economies is an important input to the decisions of policymakers, firms, and individuals. General impressions of the condition of national or state economies obtained from aggregate data often mask important substate differences in economic performance.

State economic profiles are useful tools for presenting the dynamics of substate economic change. Because their economic conditions and environments can be very different, rural and urban areas are often compared in such profiles.

This report describes the major components of a complete economic profile, with special emphasis on rural-urban comparisons. A catalog of data sources and a discussion of their value and potential abuses is provided. Techniques for deriving and interpreting meaningful information from the data are also presented.