Rural Unemployment High, But Losses Moderated in May

[imgbelt img=BLSMay09Map.jpg]Unemployment is still higher in rural American than in the cities. But the jobs picture changes from state to state, region to region.

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[imgcontainer] [img:BLSMay09Map.jpg] [source]Tim Murphy/BLS

Unemployment in rural America continues to vary from region to region. The green areas show the rural counties that have unemployment rates below the national average. The brown and red areas have rates above the national average. CLICK ON THE MAP FOR A DETAILED LOOK.

Since May of 2008, rural America has lost a smaller proportion of its jobs than urban or exurban regions.

Rural counties have 3% fewer jobs this May than they did in 2008. Both urban and exurban counties have lost close to 4% of their jobs during this same period.

Unemployment continued to be higher in rural counties than in urban and exurban ones in May, but those job losses were concentrated in a few states. In much of rural America, unemployment rates were at or below the national average.

(Tomorrow, the Yonder will show the individual rural and exurban counties that have either lost or gained the most jobs in the last year.)

Unemployment in the rural counties topped 10 percent in ten states in May, the last month where county employment figures were available. (See a chart with all the states below.)

In broad parts of rural America, however, unemployment rates are well below the national average. In the map above, the green portions of the country show rural counties with unemployment rates below the national average. Rural America is candy striped, with rural unemployment high on the West Coast, low in the Mountain West and the Great Plains, high in the Mid-West and South and then low again along the East Coast.

South Carolina had the highest rural unemployment rate in the country in May, at 15.2%. Michigan followed, with a 14.2% unemployment rate in its rural counties. Oregon stood at 13.4%; Tennessee at 12.8%; California at 12.5%; Indiana at 12.4%; North Carolina at 12.2%; Ohio at 12%; Kentucky at 11.3%; Mississippi at 11.1%; Alabama at 10.9%; Georgia at 10.4%; and Nevada and Washington State at 10.1%.

Rural unemployment has increased the most since May 2008 in Oregon (up 6.9 points to 13.4%) and Indiana (up 6.8 percentage points to 12.4%).

(The rates in this story, in the map above and the charts are not seasonally adjusted.)

In 18% of the nation’s 2,048 rural counties, there are more jobs in May of this year than a year ago. Only 5% of exurban counties and 3.7% of urban counties showed job increases from a year ago.

As in past surveys of jobs data, the Daily Yonder finds that the Great Plains states continue to show remarkably low unemployment rates. The unemployment rate in rural Nebraska was 4.1% in May. It was 4.2% in North Dakota, and 5% in Wyoming and South Dakota.

Below is a chart showing the unemployment rates in each state in May 2009. And the chart shows the rural, urban and exurban unemployment rates within each state. 

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