Job Growth Falters in Rural Counties

From August 2017-2018, the number of jobs in nonmetropolitan counties grew by less than 0.2 percent, compared to a growth rate of 1.1 percent nationwide. Rural counties that are located farthest from cities lost jobs over the year.

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Job growth in rural America continues to lag the rest of the nation, according to the latest data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

In the 12 months ending this past August, the U.S. added over 1.7 million jobs. But only 38,000 of those new jobs found their way to rural counties, according to a Daily Yonder analysis. 

More than two-thirds of the new jobs were located in the nation’s largest metropolitan areas, those with more than a million people.  

Rural America had 12.9 percent of the nation’s jobs in August 2018 but only garnered 2.2 percent of the jobs created in the previous 12 months. 

The map above shows whether counties gained or lost jobs in the 12 months ending in August 2018.  

The map tells some rural stories. For instance, the coal mining counties of Eastern Kentucky and Southern West Virginia continue to lose jobs well into the second year of the Trump administration. The Great Plains have lost jobs, a result, perhaps, of the falloff of the oil and gas industry. 

There are individual stories, too. Monroe County, Florida, (the Florida Keys) lost over 5,000 jobs, a consequence of Hurricane Irma, which struck in early September 2017. 

Job gains are concentrated in the cities. In fact, nearly 9 out of 10 counties in the metropolitan areas of a million or more gained jobs in the last year. 

In rural America, only about half of all counties gained jobs during this time of economic expansion.  

The more rural the county, the more difficult it was to add employment. Rural counties that did not touch any metro area actually lost jobs in the last year. 

The unemployment rate continues to remain low across the country. Rural unemployment is at about 4 percent, largely because the rural workforce (those looking for jobs and those employed) dropped by more than 93,000 in the last year. 

In contrast, the workforce grew larger in every other geographic category since August 2017. 

 

 
Topics: Economy

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