Unemployment in rural counties continued to run at a higher rate than in either exurban or urban counties in March 2011. But rates everywhere are dropping.
Unemployment in rural America continued to fall in March, as the recovery slowly (very slowly) begins to chop away at the jobless rate across the country.
In March, the unemployment rate in rural U.S. counties was 9.5% — down from 10% in February and well below the 10.7% rate in March 2010.
Rural unemployment continued to run higher than in urban or exurban counties. The exurban rate in March was 8.9%, down from 9.5% in February. The unemployment rate in urban counties was 9.2%, down from 9.4% in February.
Unemployment in rural counties has been higher than that in urban counties since December 2010. For most of 2010, the rural unemployment rate was lower than the rate in urban counties.
The map above shows all rural counties. Those in purple had unemployment rates below the national average of 9.2% in March. The orange counties have rates above the national average.
Fifty-three percent of the 2,027 rural counties or parishes had unemployment rates below 9.2% in March.
(Here is our unemployment report from March 2010.)[img:UERchartMarch.jpg]Unemployment in rural counties continues to follow a pattern. Unemployment is lowest in the Great Plains, from the Canadian border to Mexico and in New England. It is highest in the West, Southeast, South and in the Upper Midwest.
The list of the 50 counties with the lowest unemployment rates in March is dominated by the Great Plains. Both North Dakota and Nebraska have 13 counties on this list.
Here are the 50 rural counties with the lowest unemployment rates in March.[img:lowestmarch.jpg]
The counties with the highest unemployment rates are more scattered. California, Idaho and Michigan each has seven counties on the list. Kentucky has a patch of three contiguous counties in the eastern part of the state on the list. Alabama, which once dominated the list of rural counties with the highest unemployment rate, has only one entry this month, Wilcox County.
Here is the list of the 50 rural counties with the highest unemployment rates.[img:marchhighest.jpg]
Bill Bishop is co-editor of The Daily Yonder. Roberto Gallardo is a research associate at the Southern Rural Development Center at Mississippi State University.