Labor market conditions substantially impact both individual and community well-being. Important indicators of labor market conditions include the unemployment rate, employment growth, and earnings levels.

Rural employment in the first half of 2016 is rose above its 2015 level, but as of the 2nd quarter of 2016, there were still fewer nonmetro jobs than at the start of the recession.

Educational attainment is closely linked to labor market outcomes, as those who are more highly educated generally receive higher earnings and are less likely to be unemployed. Educational attainment in nonmetro areas has increased over time. Nonmetro areas are closing the gap with metro areas in high school completion, but the college completion gap is growing. Workers with higher levels of educational attainment generally fare better in the labor market. This is especially true in urban areas; in 2013, median earnings for college graduates were 83 percent above the median for high school graduates in urban areas, but only 54 percent higher in rural areas.

A nice summary of rural employment and education topics (among other rural issues) is found in the Rural America At A Glance series, updated in the fall of each year. See the latest in the series:

This topic is organized into sections on Rural Employment and Unemployment and Rural Education.