Rural Job Losses Slow in February; Unemployment Rises
Rural unemployment rose again in February even as job losses slowed across most of rural America.
[imgcontainer] [img:BLSFeb09_.stnd1x560.gif] [source]Bureau of Labor Statistics/Tim Murphy
This map shows unemployment rates in rural and exurban counties in February 2009.
Job losses in rural America slowed to a trickle in February, but unemployment increased as more people reported that they were looking for work. The unemployment rate in rural counties jumped to 9.8% in February, well above the rates for both exurban counties (9.2%) and urban counties (8.7%).
There are two factors to employment figures — the number of jobs and the number of people looking for work. In some months, the unemployment rate goes up because there have been large layoffs and the number of jobs decrease. In February, the rate went up because the number of people looking for work increased.
The map above shows the unemployment rates of all rural and exurban counties (urban counties appear in white). Brown-to-red counties have rates above the national average. (Red counties have unemployment rates over 20%.) Green counties have unemployment rates below the national average. If you want to see a larger format version of this map, click here.
As recently as October 2008, the unemployment rate in rural America was lower than the rate in urban counties. Exurban unemployment was lower than that in the cities in November. Since then, unemployment has risen steadily outside urban areas, and now both rural and exurban America have significantly higher percentages of people looking for work.
The most dramatic change in the employment picture in February was the slowdown in the nation’s loss of jobs. In January, rural counties in the U.S. lost 600,000 jobs. In February, those same counties lost only 3,308 jobs.
Below you can see a map showing the change in unemployment rates since the beginning of this year. The darker the red, the greater the increase in the county’s unemployment rate. Blue counties have had improving job pictures this year: local unemployment rates have decreased. Most of the counties where unemployment is decreasing can be found in Louisiana or in the Great Plains. A larger version of this map can be found here.
[imgcontainer] [img:BLSFeb09_Chng2x560.jpg] [source]BLS/Tim Murphy
This map shows the change in unemployment rates in rural and exurban counties since the beginning of 2009.