In an era of increasing global competition and urbanization, many rural areas in the United States struggle to maintain their economic vitality and viability. Although there is no single comprehensive measure of economic performance, researchers agree that rural areas of the United States, in general, have historically underperformed urban areas. Typically, per capita income is lower than in metropolitan areas overall, the incidence of poverty is higher, and education levels lag. At the same time, rural America is incredibly diverse in a multitude of ways, including economic performance.
Image: Richard Hamilton Smith / Corbis