Slowly — very, very slowly — rural communities are gaining back the jobs they lost during the recession that began in December of 2007.
For the first three months this year, rural counties gained jobs nationally. The most rural counties in the U.S. — those without towns larger than 10,000 people — gained more than 57,000 jobs in March compared with February. As a result, the rural unemployment rate declined from 7.9 percent in February 2014 to 7.5 percent in March.
In the first quarter of this year, rural America has gained over 77,000 jobs and the unemployment rate has dropped nearly a full percentage point.
In counties with small towns (between 10,000 and 50,000 residents), there were 84,000 more jobs in March than there were in February. In these counties with small towns, the unemployment rate dropped to 7 percent in March from 7.4 percent in February.
Since the beginning of 2014, counties with small towns have gained nearly 144,000 jobs and the unemployment rate in these places has fallen about half a point.
Rural and small-town counties, however, are still not back to the employment levels seen in 2007.
Yes, nationally there are roughly the same number of people employed now as there were in 2007. As a nation we’ve recovered from the recession.
In rural America, however, the number of jobs still lags 2007 totals. There were 384,000 fewer jobs in rural counties in March than in 2007. And there were 440,000 fewer jobs in counties with small towns in March compared to all of 2007.
Urban counties have gained some 765,000 jobs since 2007.
The map above shows the change in the number of jobs in every U.S. county between March 2013 and March of this year. Click on the map and it will become live. Click on any county to see employment information for that place.
Normally, we show only rural and small town counties. This map shows all counties and whether they have gained or lost jobs in the last year. By showing urban counties, we can see the relationship between metropolitan economies and the job markets in surrounding rural regions.
Metropolitan counties that gained jobs are in blue. Those that lost jobs are colored orange.
Rural and small town counties that gained jobs are green. Those that lost jobs are red.