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USA Today’s Brad Heath reports that, “More than $2.7 billion of stimulus aid for struggling parts of rural America has gone to the nation’s biggest metropolitan areas.” Heath is referring to $12 billion in rural assistance paid out so far in the federal stimulus package. According to the USA Today analysis, “went to small, far-flung suburbs in metropolitan areas with more than a million residents, including growing towns around Atlanta and Phoenix.”

The story is a continuing one — that there is no consistent measure of what’s rural and what’s not. “Queen Creek, a desert boomtown about 45 minutes from downtown Phoenix, typifies the paradox,” Heath reports. “The town’s population mushroomed from barely 3,700 at the start of the decade to more than 24,000 last year, making it the nation’s eighth-fastest-growing community. Yet Agriculture Department maps show much of the town remains eligible for rural loans, under which middle-income buyers can purchase houses with no money down.” 

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