The Daily Yonder's coverage of rural economic issues, including workforce development and the future of work in rural America, is supported in part by Microsoft.
Job growth in rural America continues to lag the rest of the country, according to the latest figures from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The number of jobs in the nation’s largest metro areas (those with a million or more people) increased by about 2 percent, or 1.3 million jobs from June 2016 to June of this year. In all rural counties, however, job growth was a bit more than a tenth of that rate, 0.29 percent, or about 60,000 jobs.
For counties that are the farthest from metropolitan areas, the news was worse. In the 924 counties that are not adjacent to any metro area, the number of jobs declined by just over 1,000, which is a tiny percentage change of -0.02.
Jobs nationally grew at a 1.66 percent rate from June 2016 to June of this year.
The Labor Statistics reports since the end of the recession in 2009 have shown lackluster job growth in rural counties. Meanwhile, the nation’s largest cities have been adding jobs at a steady clip.
Moreover, rural areas have been losing workforce, the total number of people either working or looking for a job. From June 2016 to June of this year, the rural workforce has shrunk by just over 105,000 people, or about 0.5 percent. That has helped keep rural unemployment rates low, but it indicates that the economy in many rural areas is hollowing out.
The map above shows job growth and decline from June 2016 to June 2017, the latest data available. (There’s also a full page version that will open in a separate window.) The counties shaded in green are those that gained jobs at a rate at or above the national average of 1.66 percent.
Orange counties gained jobs, but at a rate below the national average.
Red counties had fewer people working this past June than in June 2016. More than one out of three counties lost jobs in this year.
Click on any county in the interactive map, and you can see how many jobs were gained or lost, local unemployment rates and much more.
The figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics present more evidence that jobs are increasingly concentrating in the nation’s largest cities. Seventy percent of the growth in employment since last June took place in the metropolitan areas with a million or more people.
The unemployment rates are low in both urban and rural America. Again, however, the rate is lower in the biggest cities.
In the metros of more than a million people, the unemployment rate in June was 4.3 percent. In rural America, the unemployment rate was 4.8 percent.
Since everything in the country these days is political, we checked to see if the rate of job growth differed in counties voting for President Donald Trump from those that supported Democrat Hillary Clinton. It did. Clinton counties had a 1.8 percent job growth in the last year. Trump counties had a 1.4 percent job growth.
Clinton counties have 56 percent of the total jobs in the country. In the last year, Clinton counties gained 1.57 million jobs. Trump counties gained 940,000 jobs.