Major Cities Capture 9 of Every 10 New Jobs

Rural America has 4% fewer jobs today than it did before the 2007 recession. Meanwhile, the bigger the city, the higher the rate of employment growth.

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Rural America has yet to recover the jobs it lost in the recession that began in 2007, according to data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The nation’s cities, suburbs and exurbs all had more jobs in 2018 than they did in 2007, before the economic collapse that sent the world economy into depression. The nation’s rural counties, however, had 780,000 fewer jobs in 2018 than they did in 2007.

The nation’s metro areas gained 11.4 million jobs since 2007, an increase of more than 9 percent. Rural America in the same time period lost 3.7 percent of its jobs.

The trend since 2007 has been for jobs to concentrate in the nation’s largest cities. Nearly nine out of 10 of the jobs created since 2007 appeared in the metro areas with a million or more people.

(See a full-screen version of the map.)

The map above shows the gains and losses in U.S. counties between 2007 and 2018. The map is based on yearly Bureau of Labor Statistics calculations, a much more accurate figure than Daily Yonder comparisons based on monthly figures.

  • Light red counties are metropolitan counties that lost jobs from ’07 to ’18.
  • Dark red counties are rural counties that lost jobs in this period.
  • Dark green counties are metro counties that gained jobs.
  • Light green areas are rural counties that gained jobs.

If you run your mouse over the counties, local data pop up.

You will see patterns in the map. Upper New York State, for example, continues to have job losses in both rural and urban areas. In fact, Chautauqua County, New York, had nearly 12,000 fewer jobs in 2018 than it did in 2007, the greatest job loss of any rural county.

Four counties on the Great Lakes had the largest job losses among counties in the nation’s largest metro regions. These counties are Wayne County, Michigan (Detroit), Cuyahoga County, Ohio (Cleveland), Erie County, New York (Erie) and Monroe County, New York (Rochester).

The oil and gas boom in the Upper Great Plains and Texas boosted rural employment there. The Northeast lagged, as did Appalachian coal counties.

Most cities, large and small, gained jobs, but nowhere did a better job of creating employment than Harris County, Texas. The county at the center of Houston gained over 400,000 jobs since the 2007 downturn, making it the most prolific job producer in the country.

The most profound trend in the jobs figures is the increasing concentration of employment in the nation’s largest cities, those with more than a million people. Rural areas, metro areas with up to a million people and metros with fewer than 250,000 residents all lost shares of national employment to these mega-cities since 2007.

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