The rise in gross incomes and the decline in poverty in rural areas are considered evidence of economic restructuring and technological development efforts in last three decades in the United States. However, these positive effects of transformations in rural areas still do not match the rate of economic growth enjoyed by urban areas. This paper examined income convergence in 875 counties of the 10-state southeastern region using Census data for 1980 and 2000. Logarithmic difference of average per capita income between those years was regressed on socioeconomic variables using Ordinary Least Square (OLS) model. The study found important roles of human capital development and employment growth in income convergence and variations in income growth in places that differ in demographic attributes, job opportunities, geography, and resource concentrations. The study provided important insights to rural policy makers to formulate place-based economic development strategies which are practical and realistic to address economic development in the most impoverished rural places in the southeastern United States.
Key words: Agglomeration, census, clusters, convergence, industries, employment, income, southeastern.
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