More than six out of 10 counties that lie outside metropolitan areas had an unemployment rate higher than the national average of 5.2 percent in February 2016.
In fact, most places in America had higher unemployment rates than the national average, as you can see in the map above. Blue counties are metropolitan areas with unemployment rates in February that were at or below the national average of 5.2 percent. Yellow areas are metropolitan counties with rates above the national average. Just over half (54 percent) of metropolitan America had rates at or below the national average.
Green areas are nonmetropolitan counties with rates at or below 5.2 percent. Counties in red are nonmetropolitan areas with rates above 5.2 percent in February.
The data is collected by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Nonmetropolitan counties down through the middle of the country continued to report low unemployment rates in February. In the South and the eastern coalfields, rates remained high.
Nationally, 56 percent of the nation’s counties (the ones that are red and yellow) had unemployment rates above the national average.
The country continued to add jobs, although metropolitan counties have gained a higher percentage of new employment than nonmetropolitan areas. Micropolitan counties (nonmetropolitan counties with towns between 10,000 and 50,000 people) added 139,000 jobs in the same period. Rural counties (nonmetropolitan counties with no cities of 10,000 or larger) gained just over 44,000 jobs between February 2015 and February of this year.
Metropolitan counties, however, added 2.76 million jobs in that same 12-month period, or 93.8 percent of all jobs added in the United States.
Nonmetropolitan counties had 13.3 percent of all the jobs in the U.S. in February, but only 6.2 percent of the job growth.
As a result, unemployment rates in metropolitan counties continued to drop faster than in nonmetropolitan America. The unemployment rate in metro America in February was 5.1 percent, down from 5.7 percent in February of 2015.
In micropolitan counties, the rate was 5.9 percent this February, compared to 6.2 percent 12 months earlier.
In rural counties, the national rate was 6.4 percent, down slightly from 6.7 percent in February 2015.