Rural Jobs Remain Below 2007 Levels

Metro America has more jobs now than before the recession, bolstering President Obama's statement Tuesday night that we're moving beyond the "shadow of crisis." But for two out of three rural counties, the number of jobs remains below pre-recession levels, amounting to a deficit of 556,000 jobs.

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The cities now have more people working than when the recession began in December 2007 — 1.8 million more, to be precise.

Rural America, however, has yet to recover. There are 556,000 fewer jobs in rural counties in November 2014 than in the same month seven years ago, just before the recession officially started.

The map above shows rural and urban counties and whether a county has more (or fewer) people employed now than in November 2007. Rural counties are those that lie outside of a metropolitan area. Urban counties are those that are included within metro regions.

Urban counties that have more jobs now than in 2007 are blue. Those that have fewer jobs are orange.

Rural counties that have gained jobs since November 2007 are green. Rural counties that have fewer jobs now than seven years ago are red.

Click on the map to make it interactive. You can scroll over the country. Click on any county and you’ll get the basic information: employment and unemployment totals for November 2007 and 2014 and unemployment rates for the two years.

The recession officially ended in June 2009, according to the Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Let us know in the comments section what’s happening in your piece of Yonder.

(A caveat here: We used the 2007 yearly average for most of Virginia’s independent cities; the November data was not available.)

There are stark differences in the employment picture from state to state and county to county. Among urban counties, 633 have fewer jobs now than seven years ago; 533 have more jobs. Seven of the top 11 metro counties with the largest job gains are in Texas. Harris County (Houston) has gain over 265,000 jobs.

Rural counties that have fewer jobs now than in 2007 outnumber counties gaining jobs by nearly two to one. There are 1,260 rural counties with fewer people working than seven years ago; 711 rural counties have more jobs than in November 2007.

There are vast differences in the economy across rural America. Chautauqua County, New York, has more than 9,000 fewer jobs today than in 2007. Williams County, North Dakota has gained nearly 27,000 jobs since November 2007.

The oil and gas development region of North Dakota dominates the rural job creation statistics. Of the six rural counties that have added the most jobs in the last seven years, five (Williams, Stark, McKenzie, Mountrail and Ward) are in North Dakota.

The sixth is Eddy County, New Mexico, which has added more than 5,000 jobs since 2007. And, yes, Eddy County was New Mexico’s largest oil and gas producer in 2014.

Large areas of rural America have job deficits. The Appalachian coalfields have lost thousands of jobs. Much of rural Michigan is far short of recovery, as is the Sun Belt South, patches of the Mountain West and New England.

Unemployment rates in rural and urban America are still higher than they were when the recession began. In urban counties, the unemployment rate in 2007 was 4.5 percent. Seven years later, it is 5.5 percent.

In rural counties, the unemployment rate in November 2007 was 4.8 percent. In November 2014, the rate was 5.5 percent.

 

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