Urban Areas Account for 90% of New Jobs in Last 12 Months
Rural America is adding jobs, but the pace of growth remains slower than in urban areas. That means employment is gradually shifting to metropolitan areas.
The nation continues to add jobs in urban and rural areas, but in a large part of rural America, unemployment rates have either grown or have shown no change in the last year.
Rural counties added 232,000 jobs between December 2014 and December 2015. Metro counties added 1.98 million jobs, according to the latest figures from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The new jobs have driven down unemployment rates nationally, but in nearly four out of 10 rural counties, the unemployment rate has risen in the last year. A total of 789 rural counties had unemployment rates unchanged or higher than a year ago.
Only 26 percent of metro counties reported higher unemployment rates than a year before, according to the BLS.
The map above shows the change in unemployment rates in all U.S. counties between December 2014 and December 2015. Rural counties that had dropping unemployment rates are green. Rural counties with unchanged or rising rates are red.
Metro counties with dropping rates are blue. Metro counties with stable or rising unemployment rates are orange.
In the interactive version of the map below, click on individual counties to get detailed information on jobs and unemployment rates. Tell us why rates are rising or falling in your community in the comments or via our Facebook page.
The federal figures show a gradual shift of jobs from rural America to the cities. Nearly nine out of 10 of the jobs added in the last year were in urban counties. As a result, the percentage of jobs in cities is slowly creeping higher.
In December 2015, 86.7 percent of all jobs were in urban counties.
The unemployment rate in rural America was 5.6 percent in December 2015. In micropolitan counties (those with cities between 10,000 and 50,000 people), the rate was 5.2 percent. In urban counties, the unemployment rate in December was 4.7 percent.
(How this story defines rural: In this story, “rural”contains all counties that are outside a Metropolitan Statistical Area. MSA counties have a city of 50,000 or greater or strong economic ties to such a county. Rural, or nonmetropolitan counties, comprise everything else.)