Data collected between 2010 and 2012 indicate Illinois' nonmetro areas had the second highest losses of jobs in the nation.
The state of Arizona also saw a 1.8 percent decline in rural employment over the past two years, while losses were especially large in Arkansas - down 4.1 percent.
Those figures, released in USDA's annual Rural America at a Glance, paint a less-than-optimistic picture for counties outside of Illinois' urban and suburban cores. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack issued a statement following the release of the report:
The fact is, too many people in rural America live in persistently-poor areas. Too many people still have trouble finding a good job. The populations of too many small towns and rural communities are shrinking...
Rural America needs a new Farm Bill now, to meet these modern challenges head on and chart a pathway for future economic success across our rural areas." -USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack