One of the main supporters of SARL is RUPRI (Rural Policy Research Institute) out of Columbia, MO. They have a wonderful website with lots of work on rural areas. One of their more interesting is a demographic and economic profile of each state in their Data & Research Section under State Profiles.
Each study looks at population trends, ethnicity, age distribution, educational attainment, poverty, health services, per capita income, employment structure, unemployment, agricultural production and my favorite—entrepreneurship. I learned that there is only one county in both IL and IA that has more than 30% of its people self employed. Both are very rural.
Check out RUPRI’s website and their great research.