Rural Jobless Rate Inches Higher

Unemployment in rural America continued to inch up in July, reaching 8.4 percent in the more than 2,000 counties found outside the nation’s metropolitan regions. 

The unemployment rate in rural counties has been rising since April, when the percentage of unemployed people stood at 7.7 percent in rural counties.

The unemployment rate in rural counties is lower this July (the latest for which county data is available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics) than in July 2011. A year ago, the rural unemployment rate stood at 9.1 percent.

The unemployment rate in exurban counties continued to be lower than in either rural or urban areas. In July, 8 percent of the exurban workforce was unemployed. A year ago, the unemployment rate in exurban counties stood at 8.7 percent. (Exurban counties are in metropolitan regions, but they are counties where a half or more of the population lives in rural settings.)

Since April, the unemployment rate in urban counties has been higher than in rural counties. The July unemployment rate in metro America was 8.7 percent, up from 8.5 percent in July  — but down from a 9.4 percent rate in July 2011.

There were more than 323,000 more jobs in rural and exurban counties this July than in July of 2011. The map above shows which rural and exurban counties gained jobs in the last year and which counties lost jobs.


The blue counties gained jobs. In this 12 month period, nearly two out of three rural and exurban counties gained employment. The counties that lost jobs are colored brown.

Click on the map to a much larger version.

You can see that there are certain regional patterns. The Pacific coast states, for example, had a high number of rural and exurban counties that lost jobs in the last year. The Great Plains showed some job losses, except in the oil and gas drilling regions where employment is booming. (North Dakota, for example, has counties that have both gained and lost large numbers of jobs.)

Western Colorado and Northern New Mexico have lost jobs, while rural Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and Georgia have been notable job gainers.



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