Rural broadband = more jobs, better salaries

Is broadband access good for rural America? In case there were any doubts, the Department of Agriculture put them to rest in a new report. The study contends that rural counties in the United States that embraced broadband adoption at the start of this decade enjoy access to more jobs than those that did not. Their residents also make more money than their less-connected counterparts.

"Wage and salary jobs, as well as number of proprietors, grew faster in counties with early broadband Internet access," the survey concludes. "Nonfarm earnings showed greater growth corresponding to broadband availability." But large chunks of rural America still have a ways to go. Only 41 percent of rural households had broadband access in 2008, the USDA says, as opposed to 55 percent nationally. And adoption rates still lag behind cities, with a "marked difference" between urban and rural use. Only 70 percent of rural households with access to broadband embraced it in 2007, the report says, as opposed to 84 percent of city dwellers.

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