Trends and prospects for rural manufacturing
Manufacturing has become the primary economic base for many nonmetropolitan counties in both the Midwest and in the rest of the nation. At the same time, services, retail, and other industries are abandoning remote counties and are centralizing their operations in urban areas (see Figure 1). While the farm sector's health has now stabilized following the downslide of the early 1980s, farm jobs—especially those as a full time occupation—continue to disappear as the average size of a farm needed to support today's American family continues to grow larger. In sum, as one writer has put it, "many small rural towns ... have been transformed from farm service centers into minor cogs in the national manufacturing system."