Friday, January 11, 2013

Rural workforce shrank as employment grew in 2011

Unemployment in rural and exurban counties (those in metro regions, but with at least half the residents living in rural settings) has been steadily decreasing for the past several months, but there were fewer people in the rural workforce in November 2012 than the year, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data analyzed by the Daily Yonder.

Total workforce includes people who are either working or looking for work. The exurban workforce increased by 42,000 people from 2011 to 2012, but the rural workforce lost 75,000 people. Many of those losses were in the West. Most of the gains were in Texas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and the Southeast. "This doesn't mean that rural America lost jobs in the last year," Yonder Co-Editor Bill Bishop reports. "In fact, rural counties had 133,000 more jobs this November than in November 2011." (Yonder map, click on it for larger version: Brown counties lost more than 300 members of their workforce, purple counties remained stable or gained more than 200)
That means that rural America has fewer potential workers than one year ago, which also means "it had fewer potential ways for local economy to grow," Bishop writes. "It cold mean that people are gone for good, that they've left the county. Or it could mean that people have given up looking for employment. If you aren't looking for a job, you aren't counted as being in the workforce." Bishop also notes that many of the Western counties with shrinking workforces also have high rates of unemployment. The opposite is true in the Southeast. (Read more)

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