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Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Congress Must Help Rural America Respond to the Coronavirus
Press Release

RELEASE: Congress Must Help Rural America Respond to the Coronavirus

Washington, D.C. — As coronavirus cases spike outside of urban areas, a new report from the Center for American Progress examines the fallout of the COVID-19 crisis on rural America.

The report analyzes the dynamics of recent household expenditures and business activity in rural America—with a focus on the South, Midwest, and West—finds significant regional variation between these areas but offers three key takeaways:

  • Many rural areas, particularly rural communities of color, are experiencing coronavirus case numbers and deaths that now surpass those of the large metropolitan areas that dominated the news cycle early on during the pandemic.
  • The $1,200 direct payments given directly to households as part of the relief provided by the CARES Act boosted spending and business revenues in April, especially in Southern rural communities.
  • While the percentage of small businesses that were open rose in May and early June, this number plummeted through the end of June along with small-business revenues; this trend coincides with the recent spikes in COVID-19 cases, especially in the Sun Belt region.

“This summer, as cases of coronavirus increase across rural America, we are witnessing a concomitant decrease in household spending. It’s doubtful that many small businesses that were able to weather spring shutdowns will be able to survive if a virus surge forces another shutdown,” said Olugbenga Ajilore, senior economist at the Center for American Progress and author of the report. “Now more than ever, rural America needs Congress to step up and pass a significant, targeted aid package, larger than the size and scope of the CARES Act. Rural America’s survival depends upon it.”

Read the report: “Congress Must Help Rural America Respond to the Coronavirus” by Olugbenga Ajilore

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, please contact Julia Cusick at jcusick@americanprogress.org.

To find the latest CAP resources on the coronavirus, visit our coronavirus resource page.