Rural Unemployment Soars in January
The unemployment rate in rural America jumped in January 2010, moving to 11.2% — a rate of joblessness higher than in either urban or exurban counties.
The unemployment rate in exurban counties in January was 10.6%. In urban counties, the rate was 10.4%.
The map above shows the unemployment rates in more than 2,000 rural counties. The reddest counties had the highest unemployment rates. Counties in various shades of green all had unemployment rates in January that fell below the national average of 10.6%. To enlarge the map, click here.
Two Michigan counties (Mackinac and Baraga) had the highest unemployment rates (31.2% and 28.6% respectively).
Two North Dakota counties (Slope and Williams) had the lowest rural unemployment rates (2.4% and 2.5% respectively).
High unemployment in Michigan and low unemployment in North Dakota follows a pattern of joblessness that has become familiar. Since the beginning of the recession, rural unemployment has been lowest in the Great Plains. The rates have been the highest in Michigan, the Southeast and along the West Coast.
In January, however, high unemployment deepened and spread. Compared to unemployment rates in December high unemployment counties (above 15%) have emerged in California, Oregon, Utah and Arizona while spreading across the South and Michigan.
As the map grows redder, unemployment rates for rural America increase, as the chart below shows. In December, rural counties had unemployment rates that were lower than rates in the cities. Now unemployment has jumped in rural counties and is higher than in either urban or exurban communities.
Rural unemployment varies widely by state, from a high of 16.6% in rural Michigan to a low of 5.3% in the Dakotas and Nebraska. The chart below shows the unemployment rates in rural, exurban and urban counties in each state.
The chart also shows the total number of jobs lost in rural counties since January 2009. Georgia has lost the most rural jobs, down 53,420 in the last year. Eight states (Alaska, Arkansas, Kansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Vermont) report more jobs this January in rural counties than in January of 2009.
Baldwin County, Alabama, has lost more jobs than any other rural county in the last year. Below are the 50 rural counties that have lost the most jobs since January 2009.
Four Kansas counties top the list of those rural communities that have added the most jobs since January 2009. The 50 rural counties that gained the most jobs in the last year is below.