Rural Areas Lose 149,000 Jobs in Last Year

The rural unemployment rate for October matched the national rate at about 7%. But rural areas continue to shed jobs. See how your county is doing.

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The good news last week was that the nation had added more than 200,000 jobs in November and that the unemployment rate had dropped to 7 percent.

The latest figures for rural counties, however, are not so encouraging. The job recovery continues to be largely an urban event, as the number of people employed in rural America remains lower than it was just a year ago.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the latest employment figures for counties just last week. The BLS counts the number of people employed or seeking work in October in all 3,142 U.S. counties.

Using these figures, we can compare job growth in rural and urban America.

In metropolitan counties, there were 175,000 more jobs this October than in October of 2012. In rural counties, however, there were 149,000 fewer jobs this October than a year ago.

The map above shows the jobs added or lost in each rural county from October of last year to October 2013. Red counties lost jobs. Light red counties lost 200 or fewer jobs; dark red counties lost more than 200.

Blue counties gained jobs. Light blue counties gained up to 200 jobs; dark blue counties gained over 200 jobs in the last year.

Click on the map to make it interactive. You can mouse over your county and if you click, you’ll see the exact jobs gained and lost in the last year as well as the current unemployment rate.

(We followed Census definitions in determining rural and urban counties, but we included micropolitan counties as rural. Micropolitan counties have towns of between 10,000 and 50,000 people. If you click on your county, you can see if you live in a micropolitan county or a rural county with no town larger than 10,000 people.)

The unemployment rate in urban counties in October was 7 percent, the same as in rural counties. Micropolitan counties had an unemployment rate of 6.9 percent.

The unemployment rate has dropped in rural, micro and metro counties from October 2012. (The rate was 7.6 percent in metro counties and 7.3 percent in rural and micro counties a year ago.) But that drop in rural and micropolitan counties was due to a decline in the number of people looking for jobs, not an increase in employment.

There were 79,400 fewer jobs in micropolitan counties this October than a year ago. There were 69,500 fewer jobs in rural counties.

There are some patterns to the rural jobs picture. Rural counties in energy boom regions show up in dark blue. You can see the Eagle Ford Shale oil and gas play just south and east of Austin and San Antonio as well as the continuing jobs boom in North Dakota. Williams County, North Dakota, has 10,000 more jobs this October than October of 2012.

Mississippi County, Arkansas, lost more jobs (over 2,200) than any other rural county. Mississippi is just north of Memphis.

Check out the map and see what’s happening to jobs in your part of rural America. Let us know why the jobs picture is improving or declining in your home. Add comments here or on the Daily Yonder Facebook page.

 

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