Small-town America has gotten an economic jolt under Trump

Fueled largely by rising oil prices, small town and rural America enjoyed an economic jolt in 2017 that could widen the political gap in November’s midterm election between those smaller places more friendly to President Donald Trump and the big metropolitan areas sharply recoiling from him and his policies, new data shows.

The new numbers, scheduled to be released Tuesday by the Metropolitan Policy Program at the center-left Brookings Institution, show that job growth in 2017 remained heavily concentrated in the largest cities benefiting the most from the transition to the information-age digital economy.

But smaller communities, lifted by higher prices for oil, gas and other commodities and some gains in manufacturing, last year clawed back a significantly larger share of new job creation than in the final years of Barack Obama’s presidency, the analysis found. While this economic revival in Trump country so far has been driven mostly by cyclical changes in global markets, particularly for energy, Trump can plausibly argue that his agenda of promoting domestic manufacturing and oil and gas production can help sustain those gains in the non-metropolitan places that disproportionately house those industries. And that could create another electoral obstacle for Democrats in smaller communities, where the President has also connected far better culturally and stylistically than in urbanized areas.