fedgazette

What's Under the Performance Hood

Ronald A. Wirtz - Editor, fedgazette

Published September 1, 2002  |  September 2002 issue

The analysis of rural counties in this fedgazette issue centers on two variables that policymakers and other community leaders often point to as measures of health: population growth and per capita income growth.

Data on these two variables were gathered from the 1990 and 2000 censuses for the 274 counties that were not located within a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) in 1990. (MSA designation is given to a growth area around and including large cities of 50,000, or any urbanized area with a total population of more than 100,000). The exclusion of MSA counties was done to measure and compare rural, or non-MSA, against themselves.

In each category, rural counties were then rank ordered based on the rate of change (rather than nominal levels) during the 1990s. For example, a county that saw its per capita income rise 50 percent to $20,000 was ranked higher—because of the improvement—than a county whose per capita income rose 25 percent to $30,000. As such, this ordering emphasizes positive change more than comparative well-being. This approach also mitigates the different wage scales in district states, an important point when comparing per capita income.

Counties that were ranked in either to top or bottom 30 percent in both categories were than tagged for further analysis in an effort to find some factors or traits common to each group. See the entire county data set spreadsheet, including all population and income figures.

Rural Counties in Top 30 Percent
in Both Population and
Per Capita Personal Income

(Based on Percent Change 1990—2000)

County State Population Percent Change Per Capita Personal Income Percent Change
Mackinac
MI
11.9
59.3
Beltrami
MN
15.3
60.5
Carlton
MN
8.2
60.5
Douglas
MN
14.5
64.9
Goodhue
MN
8.4
59.8
Le Sueur
MN
9.4
62.9
Stillwater
MT
25.4
70.5
Brookings
SD
12.0
72.4
Butte
SD
14.9
59.5
Codington
SD
14.1
62.1
Dewey
SD
8.1
65.9
Shannon
SD
25.9
77.0
Stanley
SD
13.0
79.1
Todd
SD
8.4
74.9
Union
SD
23.5
107.9
Dunn
WI
11.0
59.6
Florence
WI
10.8
66.1
Forest
WI
14.2
63.3
Pierce
WI
12.3
64.6
Sawyer
WI
14.2
71.6
Vilas
WI
18.8
64.0

Rural Counties in Bottom 30 Percent
in Both Population and
Per Capita Personal Income

(Based on Percent Change 1990—2000)

County State Population Percent Change Per Capita Personal Income Percent Change
Kittson
MN
-8.4
41.9
Lincoln
MN
-6.7
45.8
Norman
MN
-6.7
45.5
Traverse
MN
-7.4
36.5
Carter
MT
-9.5
41.3
Hill
MT
-5.6
39.1
Liberty
MT
-6.0
-2.8
Phillips
MT
-10.9
28.4
Powder River
MT
-11.1
34.3
Rosebud
MT
-10.7
40.5
Barnes
ND
-6.1
39.1
Eddy
ND
-6.6
17.4
Golden Valley
ND
-8.7
27.0
Griggs
ND
-16.6
42.4
McHenry
ND
-8.3
33.3
McLean
ND
-11.0
42.1
Nelson
ND
-15.8
13.5
Pierce
ND
-7.5
31.4
Sheridan
ND
-20.4
43.1
Steele
ND
-6.7
25.3
Wells
ND
-13.0
26.3
Jones
SD
-9.9
30.8
Perkins
SD
-14.5
39.2
Tripp
SD
-7.1
37.3

Related articles:
fedgazette, November 2002
Rural Census Follow-up
More than just a pretty place?


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