April’s joblessness numbers are a mixed bag for rural communities. The unemployment rate is dropping. But the number of jobs in rural America isn’t climbing very quickly. In fact, in the nation’s most rural counties, there are fewer jobs this year than last.
The unemployment rate in rural America continued to decline in April, dropping to 7.6 percent in the nation’s most remote counties, down from 8.3 percent in March, according to monthly statistics gathered by the federal Bureau for Labor Statistics.
In counties with small cities (between 10,000 and 50,000 people), the rates also fell, dropping to 7.3 percent in April from 8 percent in March.
Unemployment in the nation’s cities remained lower than in the countryside. The unemployment rate in metropolitan counties in April of this year was 7.1 percent. In March, the urban rate was 7.6 percent.
The urban unemployment rate has been lower than the rural or small-city rate for all of 2013. That’s a change from 2012. Early last year, the rural rate was lower.
April is the latest month where county employment figures are available. The data is not adjusted for seasonal variations in hiring.
The map above shows the change in unemployment rates between this April and April a year ago. Counties with small towns and rural counties that have lower unemployment rates this April compared to a year ago are in green. Small town and rural counties that have higher unemployment rates this April are in orange.
Metropolitan counties are in gray.
Click on the map to get to an interactive version. Then click on any county to see its unemployment rates in April 2012, March 2013 and April 2013.
Six out of 10 rural and small town counties have lower unemployment rates this April compared to a year ago.
The economic recovery, however, is not taking hold evenly across the country, as you can see in the interactive map. And it appears that rural America is having a hard time recovering the jobs it has lost.
Rural counties — those with towns no larger than 10,000 people — have 15,000 fewer jobs this April than in April 2012.
Counties with small cities (between 10,000 and 50,000 people) have gained 19,000 jobs in the last year.
The primary job growth has taken place in the cities. Metropolitan counties have 1.67 million more jobs this April than in April 2012.