For the first time since April 2010, rural unemployment was higher than in the cities.
Two-thirds of rural counties had lower unemployment rates in December 2010 than the same month a year earlier.
While most communities are doing better than a year ago, according to the latest county unemployment statistics, unemployment rates in rural America climbed in December from November. For the first time since April, unemployment in rural counties was higher than in urban counties.
Rural unemployment was 9.3% in December. The urban rate was 9.2% and the exurban rate was 8.8%. The exurban rate rose slightly from November, but still was lower than the rates in urban and rural counties, as it has been for much of the last three years. (See chart on the next page.)
The map above shows whether rural counties had higher or lower unemployment rates in December 2010 compared to December in ’09. Bluish counties had higher unemployment rates and brick-colored counties had lower rates.
Areas that were hardest hit early in the recession — the rural counties from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula down to Mississippi — are improving. Counties in the West (except for Wyoming) having growing employment problems.
West Virginia and Georgia also have large patches of higher unemployment rates in rural counties. Click on the map to see a larger version. And go to the next page to see a chart comparing rural, urban and exurban unemployment rates since 2007.