|Daily Yonder chart; click the image to enlarge it|
Though rural employment increased 0.4 percent from 2016 to 2017 (and rural areas near metropolitan areas did a little better), jobs in the largest metro areas increased 2 percent in the same time period. That's consistent with job trends since the 2008 Great Recession.
The data reveals that the employment gap between the largest metro areas and rural areas is widening: While metro areas have seen steady job growth since 2008, job growth in rural areas (especially very rural areas) has been anemic. The largest metro areas, with populations over 1 million, regained their pre-recession job levels by 2012, and now have 10 percent more jobs than they did in 2008. But rural areas still had 3.5 percent fewer jobs in 2017 than they did in 2008.
"The 2017 employment pattern also roughly matches trends revealed in the most recent county population figures from the U.S. Census," Marema reports. "Rural counties closer to metro areas had more U.S. residents move there than leave. But rural counties not adjacent to metro areas had a net loss in population due to domestic migration."