The CHIPS and Science Act (CHIPS) passed with bipartisan support from Congress and was signed into law by President Biden on August 9, 2022. It made headlines as a major investment by the U.S. government to revitalize America’s leadership in scientific research and technology and counter China’s ascendency in these sectors.
Hidden among the $52 billion investment to ramp up semiconductor manufacturing and spur research and development for advanced technologies are landmark provisions in place-based policy, which are designed to enable a much wider array of communities across America to participate in, and reap the benefits of, the changing economy. These new initiatives build on increased recognition by policymakers of the challenges associated with growing geographic divergence in economic outcomes.
This Act thus provides a unique opportunity to support rural America, which continues to lag behind the rest of the country since the 2008 recession. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, employment and labor rate participation in rural places had not recovered to pre-2008 levels, while metro areas had added significant employment. Although rural employment has fared slightly better than metro areas coming out of the worst of the pandemic’s economic disruption, overall, it remains below pre-2008 levels and far below the urban gains since 2007.
Congressional leaders recognize that rural communities are seeking investment and support for strengthening their economic resilience and prosperity, and the place-based CHIPS programs explicitly prioritize these communities through some of their provisions. We analyzed the extent to which the CHIPS and Science Act holds promise for rural communities.