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Nonmetro unemployment rates have declined, but remain highest for adults with the lowest levels of education

Friday, October 30, 2015

The nonmetro unemployment rate fell between 2010 and 2014 as the economy continued to recover from the national recession that began in late 2007. The likelihood of being unemployed was much higher for adults (ages 25 and older) at the lowest levels of educational attainment during the 2007-2014 period. Data from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey show that differences in unemployment rates between the least and most highly educated nonmetro adults nearly doubled over the 2007-2010 period. Since 2010, unemployment rates have fallen, especially for those without a high school diploma. In 2010, nearly 15 percent of adults without a high school diploma were unemployed, while in 2014, 9.6 percent of adults in this group were unemployed. Overall, unemployment rates declined across all levels of educational attainment for nonmetro adults, showing a gradual trend towards pre-recession levels. This chart is found on the ERS topic page on Rural Employment and Education, updated September 2015.

Nonmetro job growth accelerates in 2015, but is unevenly distributed

Friday, September 4, 2015

The number of rural (nonmetro) jobs rose by 239,000 (1.2 percent) between the second quarters of 2014 and 2015, more than double the rate of growth over the prior year. Rural job growth still lags behind the rate of growth in metro areas, which saw the number of jobs rise by 1.8 percent over this period. Moreover, while the number of jobs in urban areas now exceeds the peak levels recorded prior to the Great Recession in 2007, rural employment is still well below its pre-recession peak. Rural job growth was unevenly distributed; some 1311 rural counties saw no change or an increase in jobs (ranging up to 69 percent growth), but 665 experienced job declines, with the largest decline being 19 percent. Rural counties in several oil and gas-producing states, such as Texas, Kansas, and North Dakota, which had generally experienced job growth between 2013 and 2014, experienced declines in 2014-15. The vast majority (88 percent) of rural counties in the block of Southern States stretching from Arkansas to Georgia experienced job growth, whereas, in 2013-14, 71 percent of these rural counties had employment losses. This map updates one found in the ERS report, Rural America At a Glance, 2014 Edition.

Rural and urban unemployment rates follow similar trends

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Both urban (metro) and rural (nonmetro) unemployment rates have dropped since the highs reached at the end of the most recent recession. In 2007, the rural unemployment rate averaged 5.1 percent, compared to 4.5 percent in urban areas. As the recession unfolded, metro and nonmetro unemployment rates rose rapidly and converged, peaking at 10 percent in the first quarter of 2010. Since that time, the two unemployment rates have followed similar downward trends. The seasonally adjusted rural unemployment rate stood at 6.4 percent in the second quarter of 2014, while the urban rate fell to 6.2 percent. Until recently, the bulk of the decline in the rural unemployment rate is due to a reduction in the number of people seeking work, not an increase in the number of people working. This chart is found in the October 2014 Amber Waves feature, "Rural Employment in Recession and Recovery."

Recent job trends vary widely among nonmetro counties

Thursday, July 11, 2013

All sectors of the economy were not equally affected by the 2007-09 economic recession and the subsequent recovery. Specialization within local economies has shaped county-to-county differences in recent rural (nonmetro) growth in jobs. Boosted by high farm income and, in some areas, booming gas-extraction activities, farming-dependent counties have seen job growth for the first time in many years, growing during and after the recession. Manufacturing counties, affected by global competition, showed weak job growth in the early 2000s, followed by substantial losses during the recession. Recreation counties, which experienced above-average job growth in 2001-07, lost jobs in 2007-09 as their housing markets collapsed and the recession reduced tourism. Weak postrecession job growth did not bring jobs back to prerecession levels in most nonmetro counties by 2011. County economic types were defined by ERS in 2004 and are scheduled to be updated next year. This chart combines the ERS county typology codes with employment data from U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Broadband Internet increases for rural households, but not universally

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Starting from nonexistent subscription rates in the early 1990s, the rural Internet subscription rate more than doubled between 1998 and 2001 (from less than 4 million households to 8 million households). Yearly gains in household Internet subscriptions, however, have slowed considerably since 2001. Early adopters of Internet technology (both urban and rural) relied heavily on dialup connections, but use of broadband technologies expanded rapidly starting in 2003. Nonetheless, not until 2007 did the majority of the Nation’s households gain Internet access using broadband technologies. The majority of rural households did not use broadband technologies until 2009. This chart is found in the ERS bulletin, Rural Broadband At A Glance: 2013 Edition, June 2013.

Nonmetro real wages fell in 2010 and 2011

Monday, January 7, 2013

After 2 years of economic recovery, improvements in nonmetro labor markets remain limited. While the 2007-09 recession was less severe in nonmetro areas, the subsequent economic recovery appears to be slower than in metro areas. Weak labor demand has put downward pressure on hourly wages, although wage declines have been smaller in nonmetro than metro areas. Real hourly wages grew through 2009, but fell in 2010 and 2011. The median hourly wage for all workers (excluding the self-employed), measured in constant 2011 dollars, was estimated at $14.53 in nonmetro counties and $17.04 in metro areas in 2011, down by $0.19 and $0.52, respectively, from their peak in 2009. Nonmetro real wages fell by 0.4% in 2010 and 0.9% in 2011, compared to a decline of about 1.5% in metro areas in both years. The larger wage declines registered in metro areas in 2010 and 2011 may in part reflect the fact that metro area unemployment was about one-half of a percentage point higher than in nonmetro counties. This chart appears in the 2012 edition of Rural America At A Glance, December 2012.

Natural gas extraction creates local jobs in the short term

Friday, December 21, 2012

Using hydraulic fracturing—a method of cracking rock by injecting water, sand, and chemicals under high pressure—drilling companies have increased extraction of natural gas from rock formations like shale. The three Western States of Colorado, Texas, and Wyoming saw large increases in gas production in the 2000s, most of which came from such unconventional sources. Not all counties in each State were close enough to the activity to benefit economically from the boom. On average, counties participating in the gas production boom saw a larger percent increase in employment, wage and salary income, and median household income and a larger decrease in the poverty between 1999 and 2007 than counties not participating. Still, for the scale of extraction that occurred in the three States, the number of jobs added to local economies is multiple times below what has been projected for the development of shale gas formations in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania. This chart appears in the December 2012 edition of Amber Waves magazine.

Off-farm business ventures generate more income than onfarm diversification

Monday, November 19, 2012

Historically, many U.S. farm households have engaged in other income-generating activities independent of commodity production to support their lifestyles and to help maintain the economic viability of their farm operations. These business ventures can be classified into two broad categories distinguished by the degree to which farm resources are employed or leveraged. Onfarm diversification uses amenities and other attributes of farmland resources and lifestyles to create additional businesses, while other farms operate off-farm businesses in other sectors of their local economy. In 2007, farm households engaged in 791,000 distinct alternative entrepreneurial ventures that generated $26.7 billion in household income. Onfarm diversification and off-farm business ventures each accounted for about half of these activities, but off-farm business ventures generated more than 80 percent of noncommodity business income accruing to farm households. This chart is found in the ERS report, Multi-Enterprising Farm Households: The Importance of Their Alternative Business Ventures in the Rural Economy, EIB-101, October 2012.

Opportunities for rural wealth creation depend on location and timing of investment

Thursday, November 15, 2012

As the location and boom-bust cycle in ethanol production demonstrates, opportunities for wealth creation (in this case, investing in physical business assets) can be influenced by both temporal and spatial factors. The ethanol production boom in the United States was stimulated by rising oil and gasoline prices relative to corn prices, efficiency improvements in ethanol processing technology, and Federal and State government policies that provided incentives for ethanol production. These temporally-specific drivers, together with comparative advantages of particular locations for ethanol processing--favorable access to corn production and transportation infrastructure--led to rapid expansion of ethanol plants in many rural communities, especially in the Corn Belt over the last decade. In rural places lacking these advantages, ethanol production was less likely to be profitable, and efforts to promote it could impede wealth creation. Even where such advantages exist, changes in the temporal context, such as changes in the relative price of ethanol and corn, have reduced profits and caused some plants to go out of business. This chart appears in "Creating Rural Wealth: A New Lens for Rural Development Efforts" in the September 2012 issue of ERS's Amber Waves magazine.

Farms with more production value are more likely to have broadband access

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

One of the salient features of the Internet is its capacity to provide information quickly and cheaply compared to other dissemination methods, which may reduce the costs of communicating, transacting, and sourcing information. With improved information and knowledge, individuals' perception of products and services provided by businesses would be more accurate. As a result, Internet use may lead to greater efficiency in the agricultural and other rural business sectors. With respect to broadband usage among farm businesses, respondents to the 2007 Agricultural Resources Management Survey (ARMS) were asked if they had Internet access and if it was "high-speed." A majority of farms (63 percent) reported using the Internet in their farm business. Among those using the Internet, the predominant access method was broadband and this group of users accounted for over 60 percent of U.S. farm production. This chart appeared in the report, Broadband Internet's Value for Rural America, ERR-78, August 2009.

Increases in the U.S. poverty rate were highest in the manufacturing areas of the Midwest and South

Friday, July 13, 2012

Nationally, the share of Americans living below the poverty threshold increased from 12.4 percent in 2000 to 13.8 percent in 2006-10. But in nearly one-quarter (762) of U.S. counties, the poverty rate increased by 30 percent or more, while another 878 counties saw no change or experienced declining poverty. Of the counties that had increases of 30 percent or more, 58 percent were in rural areas. Increases in the poverty rate were often highest in regions that suffered the largest increases in unemployment rates during the 2007-09 recession. Many were manufacturing-dependent counties located in the Great Lakes and Southern Highland regions. This chart appeared in the June 2012 issue of Amber Waves magazine.

Mapping frontier and remote areas in the United States

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Population retention, job creation, and acquisition of goods and services often require increased effort in very rural, remote U.S. communities. ERS has developed a set of frontier and remote (FAR) area codes to aid research and policymaking on such communities. The initial version classifies ZIP code areas and includes four FAR level codes, based on different population and travel-time thresholds. The levels are meant to reflect likely access to various levels of public and private services. Level one-shown on the map-identifies areas lacking easy access to services commonly provided in large urban centers, such as advanced medical procedures, major household appliances, regional airport hubs, or professional sports franchises. Other levels identify increasingly remote areas of the country that may lack easy access to even basic services, such as grocery stores, gas stations, and basic health-care. The map is from the Frontier and Remote Area Codes data product on the ERS website, updated June 1, 2012.

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