Rural Job Gainers…and Losers

[imgbelt img=May2012UER528.jpg]There are 195,000 more jobs in rural America this May than May 2011. But this added employment is not spread equally among the nation’s rural counties.


[imgcontainer] [img:May2012UER528.jpg] [source]BLS/Daily Yonder

The dark blue counties in the map above are those rural counties that gained jobs over the last year at a rate above the national average. The dark green counties are exurban counties that gained jobs since May 2011 at a faster pace than the nation as a whole. Click on the map to see a larger version.

The economy is particular. It likes some places, blessing them with new jobs. In other counties, the jobs disappear. It’s not a matter of state lines. The differences in job gains and losses show up from county to county.

The map above shows which rural and exurban counties gained or lost jobs in the last year. We’ll explain that in a second. First, though, the national unemployment number, according to the latest data.

Unemployment ticked up in May, in rural, urban and exurban counties, according to figures released from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Unemployment in the nation’s rural counties was 7.8 percent in May, up from 7.7 percent in April. 

The rate in exurban counties was 7.4 percent, up from 7.2 percent in April.

And in urban counties, the rate rose from 7.8 percent in April to 8 percent in May. 

The urban unemployment rate has been higher than the rural unemployment rate in 8 of the last 12 months.


(Exurban counties are in metropolitan areas, but about half of the people living in these places reside in rural settings.)

These figures are not seasonally adjusted, so the best comparison is between May of this year and May of 2011. Last May, the rural unemployment rate was 8.7 percent, nearly a full point higher than this May’s rate.

Similarly, the exurban unemployment rate has dropped from 8.3 percent in May ’11 to 7.4 percent this May.

Each month when these figures come in, we try to look at a different aspect of the employment picture. This month, we want to find out which rural and exurban places are adding or losing jobs. That’s what the map above shows.

Nationally, there were 1.9 million more jobs this May than May a year ago, an increase of 1.4 percent.

In rural counties, the total number of jobs increased by less than the national average. There were 195,000 more jobs in rural counties this May than May of 2011, an increase of 0.9 percent.

Exurban employment increased 1.1 percent, or by 142,000 jobs.

That increase was not spread evenly across the nation, as the map above shows. This month we divided exurban and rural counties. So, here, the dark green counties are those exurban counties that grew jobs at 1.4 percent (the national average) or more since May 2011. The dark blue counties are the rural counties that grew at the national rate or faster.

On the other end of things, yellow designates the exurban counties that lost jobs since May 2011. The rural counties that lost jobs are in red.

Click on the map to see a much larger version.

There are 2,036 rural counties. About one-third of those lost jobs in the last year (the counties in dark red).

Fewer than one out of five of the 522 exurban counties lost jobs in the last year (those in yellow).

At the same time, 40 percent of rural counties gained jobs at a faster pace than the 1.4 percent national rate. 

Among exurban counties, 45 percent gained jobs at a faster rate than the nation as a whole.

The rates changed markedly from county to county, even within states. North Dakota, for example, had counties that were among those both gaining and losing the largest percentages of jobs over the last year.

Here are the fifty rural and exurban counties that gained jobs at the highest rate since May 2011.


And here are the fifty rural and exurban counties that lost jobs at the fastest pace in the last year.