Rural Jobs Continue to Rebound

Two-thirds of rural counties added jobs from June 2014 to June 2015, according to new federal data. Rural unemployment also fell during the period.


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Two out of every three rural counties gained jobs between June 2014 and June of this year, according to data released last week from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The improvement builds on earlier rural job growth that occurred this spring, after disappointing job reports this winter.

The June figures in the current report show that employment growth continues and most rural counties are adding jobs and reducing their unemployment rates.

The map above shows county-level job gains and losses between June 2014 and June 2015. Urban counties that gained jobs are blue. Urban counties that lost jobs in those 12 months are orange. Only one in five urban counties lost jobs.

Rural counties that gained jobs are green. Rural counties that lost jobs are red. All counties outside metropolitan statistical areas are considered rural in this analysis.

To see the figures for individual counties, click on the map to activate it, and then click on the individual county to bring up employment data. If you have information about why your area is gaining or losing jobs, please leave a comment.

Job growth on the east and west coasts is impressive. Los Angeles County alone saw a job gain of over 114,000 in the last year. New York City had strong job growth, as did Phoenix. That urban job growth did not extend to Florida. Urban counties there lost thousands of jobs.

Rural job losses continued in the eastern coalfields of Kentucky and West Virginia. And while rural Texas and North Dakota led the way in job creation through recent year, those gains have now turned to losses.

Rural counties gained over 218,000 jobs in the last year. Urban counties gained over 2 million jobs. Urban counties were home to 86.4 percent of all jobs in June of this year — and these counties had 90.4 percent of all the jobs gained in the last year.

The unemployment rate in urban counties was 5.4 percent in June, according to the BLS. In rural counties, the rate was slightly higher, at 5.8 percent.