Profile: Rural Capital Area

The Rural Capital Area has an overall population of 977,000 people and 285,000 jobs. The area has grown faster than the U.S.: the population grew 40% from 2006-2016 and job base grew 40%. The area’s population growth is primarily due to the migration of people into the area: over the past decade, 73% of new population was due to domestic migration. Migration into the area declined from 2007-2012, before increasing again from 2013-2016.


The Rural Capital Area’s population is 60% White, 29% Hispanic, 5% Black, and 4% Asian. The Rural Capital Area has a relatively younger population with a high concentration of families.



According to the Census, 20% of the Rural Capital Area’s population is children under 15 years old and 28% of area residents are between the ages of 25 and 44 years old. The area has a lower concentration of residents over the age of 45.

The Rural Capital Area’s median household income has consistently been higher than the national average for the past decade and was 123% of the U.S. level in 2015.

The percent of overall population in poverty in the Rural Capital Area has remained under national trends over the past decade. Between 2010 and 2015 overall population in poverty in the Rural Capital Area fell from 11.1% to 9.8%. The percentage of children in poverty fell more rapidly than the region, going from 14.8% in 2010 to 12.8% in 2015.

The Rural Capital Area’s economy has performed very well over the past decade, creating new jobs every year except one. The Rural Capital Area has weathered the recession well, losing just 2,300 jobs in 2009 and adding 64,000 jobs from 2010 to 2016.

The Rural Capital Area unemployment rate has fallen from a peak of 7.3% in 2010 to 3.4% in 2016. The area rate has been consistently lower than the U.S. rate.

The largest industries in the Rural Capital Area are:

Employment in all major industries has grown over the past 5 years. Significant growth occurred in Manufacturing (+45%), Health Services and Private Education (+42%), Construction (+42%), Information (35%), and Professional and Business Services (+33%).

The average salary in the Rural Capital Area is 86% of the U.S. average and from 2011-2016 grew 7%, which was slower than the U.S. growth rate of 12%.

The Manufacturing industry has a larger average salary than the U.S. average. The area’s fastest growing salaries over the last 5 years are in Professional and Business Services (+37%), Construction (+25%) and Leisure & Hospitality (+18%).