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Rural America gained jobs this February, compared to the same time in 2019, according to the latest employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

This is likely the last jobs report to be issued under “normal” circumstance – that is, before businesses began to close due to the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The news in February – a time that, admittedly, feels like ages ago – was relatively good. Rural counties reported having 110,000 more jobs this February than February 2019

This reverses the reports from January, when rural America showed a decline of 88,000 jobs from a year earlier.

The map above shows where jobs were gained and lost this February compared to February 2019. 

About six out of ten rural counties gained jobs compared to a year earlier. The counties with the largest job gains were scattered across the country, from Hawaii County, Hawaii (3,540 job gain) to Gallatin County, Montana (3,167) to Reeves County in West Texas (3,153 jobs).

Jackson County, West Virginia, a county dependent on manufacturing, had the biggest job drop, reporting 5,419 fewer jobs this February than a year ago. Several counties in northern California also reported steep job loses, likely due to the fires that ravaged the state last year.

Click on the map and you can find job figures for each county.

Most new jobs went to the nation’s cities. Out of the 1.9 million job gain nationally this February compared to February 2019, 1.4 million were found in the nation’s largest metro areas, those with a million or more people. 

The rate of job growth in those major metros was more than twice that of rural America.

Reports from March should begin to show the devastation brought on by the coronavirus pandemic that began sweeping through the country in January.