Document Type

Research Progress Report


University of Montana Rural Institute

Publication Date



Economics | Labor Economics | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies provide a range of services to help people with disabilities become employed. How services are delivered, however, depends on several factors including client interests and abilities as well as economic opportunities within the local community. For better or worse, rural and urban clients face vastly different employment landscapes. For instance, USDA Economic Resource Service data indicate that rural people earn lower wages and experience lower employment rates (ERS, 2012). Rural counties also have fewer full-time jobs per capita, particularly in skilled labor sectors (ERS, 2012; Parker, 2003). Urban areas have higher employment rates in professional and managerial positions, while rural communities have higher rates in blue collar and resource basedoccupations (ERS, 2006) characterized by limited benefits and less opportunity for advancement (Boushey, Fremstad, Gragg, & Waller, 2007). Additionally, rural counties have a higher percentage of very small firms (i.e., less than 50 employees) compared to urban counties (Knoder, 2011). This economic variation requires different employment strategies for rural and urban clients.Recently, we conducted a national qualitative study to better understand how VR agencies approach rural employment with their clients. This factsheet focuses on informant comments related to the rural employment landscape and VR approaches to overcoming barriers and developing jobs for rural clients.


employment and vocational rehabilitation, vocational rehabilitation, job development, rural, disability


© 2012 RTC:Rural.

Granting Agency

National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research


Our research is supported by grant #H133B080023 from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, U.S. Dept. of Education.

Project Number