New Report Finds a Gap in High-Paying Tech Jobs in Rural America

The Center on Rural Innovation and Ascendium Education Group find untapped potential in rural American workforce, identify central themes about tech employment and training.

HARTLAND, Vt., May 10, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The Center on Rural Innovation (CORI), with financial support from the Ascendium Education Group, announced the publication of its report on the state of tech employment in rural America.

The report concludes a nearly year-long research project involving a national survey of rural adults, a regional survey of rural employers, economic analysis of relevant labor market data collected by EMSI Burning Glass, and more than 50 interviews with tech employers, training providers, workers, and learners. It offers a variety of key findings and strategies that can be useful for local, state, and federal leaders, employers, rural training providers and higher ed institutions, workforce development professionals, funders, and tech workers alike. The research reveals that:

  • Rural America is home to half of the tech jobs — about 244,000 — that one would expect to find based on national tech employment patterns and more than 80,000 of the "missing" rural tech jobs are in core non-tech industries such as manufacturing, healthcare, government, and banking.
  • Three-quarters of missing tech jobs in core non-tech industries are in roles such as software developers, computer systems analysts, and cybersecurity and systems engineers.
  • Nearly 60% of rural Americans are interested in tech jobs and careers.
  • Rural tech workers take a variety of paths into the field — half are self-taught, and less than 40% obtained their training via a four-year college or university.
  • The two largest barriers to tech training for rural workers are cost and time commitment.

"This report helps to shine new light on the opportunities for rural America to fully participate in the tech economy," said Mark Rembert, CORI’s director of research and knowledge. "Our research shows that a majority of rural Americans are eager to increase their tech skills, and that there are untapped opportunities for rural employers to create pathways into technology careers."

"Rural workers are poised to fill tech roles in the fast-growing digital economy," said Kirstin Yeado, a program officer at Ascendium. "CORI’s research provides employers and rural postsecondary education and workforce development leaders with a resource that illustrates how and why they must work together to help more rural workers – especially those from low-income backgrounds – gain the skills needed to transition to employment in the digital workforce."

The report is available here.

CORI’s prior research efforts include a series of case studies and reports, funded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Research and National Technical Assistance (RNTA) program, that examine tech-based economic development efforts in rural communities around the country and how technology is affecting the future of work in rural America. In 2020, CORI partnered with the Sorenson Impact Center to profile 10 rural institutions of higher education doing creative work to promote technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship in their communities.

About the Center on Rural Innovation (CORI)

Established in 2017, CORI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization at the heart of a dynamic social enterprise focused on closing the rural opportunity gap. CORI partners with rural leaders across the country to build digital economies that support scalable entrepreneurship and lead to more tech jobs in rural America. CORI is committed to advancing economic prosperity in rural America through a comprehensive range of expertise, programs, and partnerships that ensure all Americans, regardless of geography, are able to participate in our 21st-century digital economy. As part of that work, CORI has created the Rural Innovation Network, a nationwide community of change agents and local leaders working to advance the economic future of small-town America. For more information visit

About Ascendium Education Group

Ascendium Education Group is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to helping people reach the education and career goals that matter to them. Ascendium invests in initiatives designed to increase the number of students from low-income backgrounds who complete postsecondary degrees, certificates and workforce training programs, with an emphasis on first-generation students, incarcerated adults, rural community members, students of color and veterans. Ascendium’s work identifies, validates, and expands best practices to promote large-scale change at the institutional, system, and state levels, with the intention of elevating opportunity for all. For more information, visit

Contact: Rebekah Collinsworth
Center on Rural Innovation (CORI)

SOURCE Center on Rural Innovation