Country people were just as poor during the economic recovery as they were during the last decade's recession, says a study that found little difference between urban and rural poverty.

The study, Poverty in Rural America: A National Overview, said more than one in six people in rural America fell below the poverty line of $9,056 for a family of three in 1987 while the rate was one in eight for residents of metropolitan areas."In fact, the rural poverty rate for 1987 - the fifth year of an economic recovery - was as high as the rate for 1975, the deepest recession year of the 1970s," said Robert Greenstein, director of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, while presenting the study Tuesday to a hearing of the House Select Committee on Children, Youth and Families.

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau on poverty from 1978 to 1987, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities found that the rural poverty rate rose from 13.5 percent to 16.9 percent.

In metropolitan areas during the same period, the rate rose from 10.4 percent to 12.5 percent. Metropolitan areas comprise one or more cities and their suburbs.

In the central cities, the rate climbed from 15.4 percent to 18.6 percent, according to the study.

"What's most striking is that the rate of poverty in rural areas is almost as high as in central cities," Greenstein said Tuesday.

The center, a nonprofit organization which conducts research and analysis on a range of issues concerning low-income families and individuals, found the changes in poverty consistent among most racial, ethnic, age and demographic groups.