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Just about every corner of the country lost huge numbers of jobs between March and April of this year, but rural places fared far better than the nation’s largest cities.

April was the first full month of lockdowns and business closings due to the Covid-19 outbreak, so nearly every county suffered job losses. But the decline in employment diminished as one moved away from the centers of the nation’s largest cities, according to employment data just released by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The counties at the centers of the metropolitan areas of a million or more lost 15.1% of their jobs from March to April of this year.

The farther that counties were from the core areas of the nation’s largest cities, the smaller their percentage of job loss from March to April. Major metros have a combined population of 1 million or more; medium metros have 500,000 to 999,999; small metros have under 500,000 residents. The nonmetropolitan counties (red) are broken into two categories — those that touch a metro area and those that don’t.

Rural counties that do not touch any metropolitan area lost 10.8% of their jobs. Rural counties adjacent to metro areas lost 11.7% of their jobs.

The graph shows the gradual decline in job losses as the distance from central areas of large cities increases.

Local economies also affected the extent of job losses. Counties with large agricultural economies had about half the job losses of those counties that cater to tourists.

Rural farming counties lost 7% of their jobs from March to April. Rural counties with recreation economies lost 13.3% of their jobs. 

Rural counties that depend on farming (far left) as their major economic driver lost a smaller share of jobs than other types of counties. Counties that depend on the recreation economy (far right) had the greatest percentage loss in jobs from March to April. The county economic types were devised by the USDA Economic Research Service.

Those patterns were the same in the nation as a whole. Clark County, Nevada — home of Las Vegas — lost 33.4% of its jobs between March and April, the largest percentage decline in the nation.

The map shows employment data from the Bureau for Labor Statistics for every county. 

Red shows rural counties with job loss from March to April greater than the national average of 14.1%. 

  • Brown counties are rural with job losses between 5% and 14.1%. 
  • Green counties are rural with job losses under 5%. Some even had slight job gains. 
  • Light blue counties are urban with job losses above the national average of 14.1%. 
  • Dark blue counties are urban with job losses below the national average.