Rural Ohio is gaining jobs

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COLUMBUS — Since 2010, job growth in Ohio’s rural areas has been strong, according to Mark Partridge, an economics professor at Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

Between 2010 and 2017, only six states had better rural job growth than Ohio.

Some rural areas that have experienced solid job growth include Wooster, Van Wert and Athens.

Between 2010 and 2018, Ohio’s nonmetropolitan areas with populations less than 50,000 and not within commuting distance of major cities had a 7.6% increase in the number of jobs — nearly 10 times the national average.

During the same period, the growth of jobs in Ohio’s major cities was only slightly higher — a 9.2% increase.

The uptick in jobs has been significant in Columbus, and to a lesser degree in Cincinnati, but in Ohio’s other major cities, the number of jobs has decreased, stayed about the same, or increased only modestly, Partridge said.

And in Ohio’s rural counties without connections to cities with more than 10,000 people, the corresponding job growth rate was 8.4%.

That Ohio’s rural and urban job growth rates are nearly comparable is pretty significant, Partridge said.

Not all of rural Ohio is faring well in terms of attracting new employers, Partridge pointed out.

Many rural areas with economies closely tied to agriculture are still suffering from downturns in the prices and demand for soybeans, corn and other commodities.


Partridge will be the keynote speaker at the May 8 Spring 2019 Outlook and Policy Conference Challenges and Opportunities for Economic Development in Ohio.

The event is hosted by the CFAES Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics (AEDE).

Partridge’s talk, Does an Urbanizing World Still Need Rural America?, will be at 12:15 p.m. during the conference in the Fawcett Center for Tomorrow on Ohio State’s Columbus campus.

Other speakers include:

  • Bill LaFayette, owner, Regionomics;
  • Edward “Ned” Hill, Ohio State professor of economic development;
  • Zoe Plakias, assistant professor, AEDE;
  • Nan Whaley, mayor, Dayton, Ohio; and
  • Tom Johnson, mayor, Somerset, Ohio, and executive-in-residence, Ohio University.

To register for the upcoming conference, which is free and open to the public, visit


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