Rates Drop, but Unemployment Still Widespread

[imgbelt img=Feb2010jobs528.jpg]Unemployment rates are down in rural America, but there are still 935,000 fewer jobs in rural counties now than there were in December of 2007.


[imgcontainer] [img:Feb2010jobs528.jpg] [source]Daily Yonder/BEA

This map shows whether the unemployment rate in rural counties increased or decreased between April of 2009 and April of this year. Red indicates the rate went up; green means the rate went down. To see a larger version, click on the map or click here.

Unemployment rates in rural America continued to dip in April, although the rate of joblessness in rural counties still exceeds those in exurban and urban communities.

Rural counties reported an unemployment rate of 9.6% in April 2010, down from 10.7% in March. (April is the latest month where unemployment rates are tallied by county.)

The unemployment rate in exurban counties was 9.2% in April and in urban counties it was 9.5%. (See the next page for a chart of rural, urban and exurban unemployment rates since the beginning of 2007.)

Even as unemployment rates drop, however, rural America has a long way to go before it gets back to where it was before the recession began in December of 2007. In April of this year, there were 935,000 fewer jobs in rural counties than there were in December 2007. (Click here to download an Excel chart showing employment and unemployment totals in April 2009 and April 2010 for all U.S. counties.)

The geography of the recession has changed in rural counties over the last year. (Click here or on the map to see a larger version.)

The map above shows the change in unemployment rates from April of 2009 to April of this year. Red counties have higher unemployment rates this year than last. Green counties have lower unemployment rates in April 2010 than April 2009.

Many areas that were doing relatively well last April have seen a worsening of their employment situation while those parts of rural America that were hurting a year ago have shown some improvement.

A year ago, for example, rural counties in the Carolinas had some of the worst unemployment in the country.

Since last year, however, those high rates have dropped. North and South Carolina show a lot of “green” in the map above, indicating their unemployment rates have dropped.

Oregon and Washington have also improved in the last year.

Meanwhile, areas that had below average unemployment last year have seen their rates rise. The red of rising unemployment has spread across the Mountain West. Eastern Kentucky has seen a rise in unemployment in the last year.

Rural Iowa and Texas were in good shape last year, but the rural counties in these two states have seen unemployment rates rise since.