Rural communities are highly vulnerable to external shocks. A major employer leaving a town, changes in federal or state policies, the economic downturn of a neighboring city, and national economic recessions disrupt rural communities’ development paths and sometimes push them over an economic cliff.
The impact that these shocks have, however, varies from community to community, as does how each community adjusts or recovers. The economic resilience of rural towns both affects and is affected by the movement of people into and out of rural communities, the evolution of agriculture and other industries, local social organizations, public policy, and economic interaction with larger cities.
Measuring economic resilience can help communities diagnose their economic condition, monitor improvement, and assess the impact of policies and local investment. Furthermore, a better understanding of the factors that affect economic resilience can enhance the identification and diagnosis problems and opportunities.