Yet initial reports indicated that the recovery was uneven: while incomes in metropolitan areas grew 6%, those in nonmetro areas fell 2%.
One follow-up story that illustrated this unevenness, was by Binyamin Appelbaum, Patricia Cohen and Jack Healy in the NY Times under the headline "A Rebounding Economy Remains Fragile for Many." Among others, they quote Ralph Kingan, mayor of Wright, Wyoming, in the state's coal-rich Powder River Basin:
We ain’t feeling too much of all that economic growth that I heard was going on, patting themselves on the back. It ain’t out in the West.Coal mines there have laid off many workers in the wake of bankruptcies. The story features rich vignettes and quotes out of Kentucky, too, linking the economic conditions these places to the current presidential campaign.
Shortly after these reports, however, the New York Times Upshot ran this headline on September 16, "Actually, Income in Rural America is Growing, Too." In it, Quoctrung Bui explains that a change in the definition of "rural" accounts for the initial confusion over how folks in the hinterlands fared. I would include an excerpt, but the explanation is not amenable to brevity, so you'll have to read Bui's story for yourself. Bottom line: "Median household incomes in rural America actually grew 3.4 percent in 2015."