Pattern of Rural Job Loss Continues

Employment is up nationally, but rural counties lost 17,000 more jobs from November 2012 to 2013.

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Jobs continue to be created in cities while they are lost in rural America, according to the latest employment figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The BLS found that urban counties had added more than 1.1 million jobs between November 2012 and November of this year. Micropolitan counties (ones with cities of 10,000 to fewer than 50,000 residents) added 13,600 jobs.

But in rural counties the number of jobs had dropped by more than 17,000 between November 2012 and November of this year. (Rural counties are not part of a metropolitan region and don’t have towns of more than 10,000 residents.)

The map above shows the change in jobs from November 2012 to November 2013 of this year. Orange counties lost jobs. Light blue counties gained jobs. Dark blue counties gained more than 1,000 jobs over the last year.

You can see on the map that the largest job gains are clustered around cities. Los Angeles County alone gained more than 100,000 jobs in the last year. Job gains begin disappearing as you move away from urban areas — except in rural regions that have seen strong oil and gas activity.

(Click on a county to see employment data for both November 2012 and November 2013.)

Not all cities enjoyed gains. Shelby County, Tennessee (central Memphis), lost nearly 13,000 jobs. Pima County (Tuscon, Arizona) lost more than 8,000

These numbers are subject to change. Measuring employment in U.S. counties is not an exact science.

The general trend, however, has remained the same since last spring: The job recovery has been stronger in cities than in rural counties. While nationally metro areas have gained jobs, rural counties have not. See Yonder stories here, here and here.

In fact, the change in jobs from October to November 2013 told the same story. In that one-month time period, metro counties gained more than 680,000 jobs. Rural and micropolitan counties lost more than 51,000.

Those figures are not seasonally adjusted, but the trend again shows job gains in urban counties and losses in rural.

The unemployment rate continued to drop across the country. The unemployment rate in rural counties in November stood at 6.9 percent, down from 7.4 percent a year ago.

The micropolitan rate was 6.8 percent, down from 7.3 percent a year ago.

And the urban rate in November 2013 was 6.6 percent, down from 7.4 percent a year ago.

Once again, a North Dakota county (McKenzie) had the largest rural job gain in the last year, up 1,702 jobs. North Dakota has been in the middle of an oil and gas binge in the last few years.

But Columbus County, North Carolina, and La Grange County, Indiana, also had strong job gains, both increasing their employment base by over 1,200 in the last year. These are the only three rural counties in dark blue on the map, showing that they gained more than 1,000 jobs in the last year.

Remember, click on any county on the map above to see specific jobs data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

 

 

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