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Definitions and Data Resources

Rural Definition:

CREATE regions must meet the following condition:

  • 51% or more of the region's population is classified as rural

Rural Classification by Population

The Census Bureau defines counties in terms of the percentage of the population that is located in an urban area. By default those that are not in an urban area are in a rural area. A CREATE region can include a mix of urban and rural counties as long as the overall percentage of population living in a rural area is 51% or greater.

An example. Below is a table for a potential four county region. While one county (Bradley) is 50.41% urban, the region still qualifies because overall across the four counties, 66.8% of the region is rural.

County County Population Urban Population Rural Population Pct Urban Pct Rural
Bradley 11,508 5,801 5,707 50.4% 49.6%
Calhoun 5,368 - 5,368 0 100%
Carroll 27,446 7,456 19,900 27.2% 72.8%
Chicot 11,800 5,395 6,405 45.7% 54.3%
Total Population 56,122 18,652 37,470

Rural Population/Total County Population = 37470/56,122 = 66.8%
Region qualifies because ratio is larger than 51%

Data Source:
Click on “Lists of Population, Land Area, and Percent Urban and Rural in 2010 and Changes from 2000 to 2010”. Then download the file in Excel or Text that is labeled “Percent urban and rural in 2010 by state and county” to access county level data.

Download urban and rural county data: HERE

Definition of Economically Distressed

  1. The poverty rate for the region is at or above the state average (2016)
    Illinois state average: 13.1%
    New Mexico state average: 20%
    North Carolina state average: 15.4%

    Data Source: Small Area Income Poverty Estimates (SAIPE)

    Download county poverty data: HERE

  2. The region has high unemployment or low labor force participation rates relative to the state average.

    1. Unemployment Rate Average for 2018
      Illinois Unemployment Rate: 4.3%
      New Mexico Unemployment Rate: 4.9%
      North Carolina Unemployment Rate: 4.0%

      Data Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

      Download county unemployment data: HERE

    2. Labor Force Participation Rates, 2018 (Source)
      Illinois LF Participation Rate: 65.4%
      New Mexico LF Participation Rate: 56.2%
      North Carolina LF Participation Rate: 62.4%

      Download county labor force participation data: HERE*
      *Data from this file provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the United States Census Bureau