Rural counties gained jobs in March at rates faster than the national average. But the gains weren't distributed evenly. Just ask Michigan and Colorado.
Eight out of ten rural and exurban counties added jobs between February and March of this year.
All parts of the U.S. gained employment in March, but rural counties added jobs at a slightly faster pace than the national average. The new jobs — 156,000 in rural counties alone — reduced unemployment in rural America to 10.7% in March.
In February, rural unemployment was 11.1%.
Exurban unemployment was down to 10.1% after these counties added 67,000 jobs. And urban counties added 556,000 jobs in March, dropping unemployment in the cities to 10.2%.
The map above shows those rural and exurban counties that lost jobs (red and pink, respectively). The dark green counties are those rural areas that gained jobs. The light green counties are exurban communities that gained employment.
The map shows a new pattern in rural employment. (To see a larger version of the map, click here or on the map.) The highest employment during this recession has been in the Great Plains states.
As you can see in the map above, the Plains had more than their share of job losses in March. North Dakota has a cluster of rural counties losing jobs. (Recently, the New York Times reported that the biggest problem in North Dakota was a housing shortage for new residents.)
Kansas has a large number of counties that lost jobs in March. It is one of only eight states to lose jobs in March.
Rural Colorado has a number of counties that lost employment in March. The same holds true for Arkansas, which also lost jobs statewide in March.
Oregon, Alabama and the Carolinas were job losers early in the recession, but in March they all gained. North Carolina and Alabama had the largest percentage gain in jobs of all the states.
The one constant is Michigan. It lost jobs and the declines were particularly acute in rural parts of the state. Job losses in the Upper Peninsula appeared to wash over into northern Wisconsin.
Rural America still has slightly higher unemployment rates than urban or exurban counties. Below is a chart showing rural, exurban and urban unemployment rates since the beginning of the recession.
(To download an Excel file with the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ unemployment and employment totals in March for all U.S. counties, click here.)
Fourteen of the fifty rural counties that gained the most jobs were in North Carolina. Only one was in Texas.
The fifty rural counties that gained the most jobs in March are listed below.
The fifty rural counties that lost the most jobs are listed below. Twelve of the top 50 losers are in Michigan. Eight are in Colorado.