Rural job growth is back in positive territory comparing the past two Aprils. Counties affected by the faltering energy boom are the exception.
Job gains in rural America have returned after a sudden decline early this year.
There were 232,000 more jobs in rural counties this April than in April a year ago, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. In January, the Daily Yonder found that these same counties counted 330,000 fewer jobs than in January 2014.
(Rural America here includes all counties that lie outside metropolitan regions.)
The unemployment rate in rural America in April stood at 5.4 percent. A year ago, the unemployment rate in rural counties was 6.2 percent.
The rate of job gain in rural America was only slightly slower than the rate of job gains in urban counties. Rural job growth was about 1.2 percent a year; the urban rate was 1.8 percent.
The unemployment rate in metropolitan America was 5 percent in April 2015; a year earlier, the rate was 5.8 percent. Urban counties gained 2.33 million jobs between April 2014 and April 2015.
The map above shows job loss and gain between April of 2014 and April of this year. Metropolitan counties that lost jobs are colored orange. Metro counties that gained jobs are blue.
Rural counties that lost jobs are red. Rural counties that gained jobs in that year are green.
If you click on a county, you’ll get detailed data on job growth and the local unemployment rate in April.
The map shows some reversals of long-term trends. For many years, rural Texas showed strong job growth. Now there are large swaths of the state that have lost jobs in the last year. The same is true in North Dakota. Both states are suffering from declines in oil and gas production.
The eastern coalfields (Kentucky and West Virginia) continue to show precipitous job declines. Most of the counties in Eastern Kentucky and southern West Virginia have 8 to 10 percent job loses just in the last year. Northern New England has suffered widespread job losses since April 2014, as has northern Florida and the region around Macon, Georgia.
But most of the country, rural and urban, is showing good job growth. Gallatin County, Montana (Bozeman), has gained more than 2,300 jobs in the last year and has an unemployment rate of 2.9 percent.
Click on your county or around your region and let us know what’s happening where you live.