Rural Job-Growth Rate Half that of Metro

Most rural counties added jobs last year, but four out of 10 continued to lose jobs during the period. Jobs in metro counties grew at twice the pace of rural job growth.

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Rural and urban American both gained jobs in the last year, but the job growth rate in rural counties has been only about half that experienced in metropolitan areas, according to new figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In the 12 months between August 2013 and August of this year, the number of jobs in metropolitan counties increased by 1.6% — or a total of 1.97 million jobs.

Nonmetropolitan counties added 67,800 jobs in that same period, but the rate of increase was only 0.8%.

The map above shows the rate of increase in jobs since last August in all U.S. counties.

  • Blue counties had a rate of job increase at or above the national average of 1.5%.
  • Yellow counties increased their number of jobs, but at a rate less than the national average.
  • Red counties had fewer jobs this August than in August of 2013.

Click on the map, and you’ll jump to an interactive version. Then click on any county to see the pertinent information: number of jobs, job growth, current unemployment rate and whether the county is metropolitan, micropolitan or noncore.

Check out your region and let us know why jobs are increasing there — or declining.

Micropolitan counties lie outside metro regions but have larger towns than rural counties, between 10,000 and 50,000 people. We consider them rural. Micropolitan counties nationally also had a job growth rate that was half the urban rate.

Noncore counties lie outside metro areas and no cities larger than 10,000.

As a result of these changes, in the last year, urban counties have slightly increased their share of the nation’s jobs, to 86%, according to the BLS.

Some of the fastest job growth could be found along the Kansas/Colorado border. The BLS survey in August found only 23 people looking for jobs in Wallace County, Kansas, which had a 40% increase in jobs in the last year. Eight of the 10 counties with the fastest job growth were in Colorado — Baca, Philips, Jackson, Kit Carson, Bent, Washington, Mineral and Kiowa.

As we have been seeing for the past several years, counties with significant oil and gas activity lead rural America in job growth.

Six counties had job declines of more than 10% in the last year: Treasure County, Montana; Dewey County, Oklahoma; Meagher County, Montana; Taylor County, Georgia; Weakley County, Tennessee; and Coal County, Oklahoma.

Four out of 10 rural counties had fewer jobs this August than in August 2013.

The unemployment rate has continued to decline in rural and urban counties. In August of last year, the unemployment rate in rural counties was 7.3%; in micropolitan counties it was 7.2%; and in urban counties it was 7.4%.

This August, the rural rate was 6.3%; the micropolitan rate was 6.1% and the urban rate was 6.3%.

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