|Employment changes from Aug. 2019-2020 compared to national average|
(Daily Yonder map; click the image to enlarge it or click here for the interactive version with county-level data.)
Employment in rural counties declined 4.3 percent between August 2019 and August 2020, a loss of just under 900,000 jobs. "In most times, this would be a dismal record. But in the economy shaped by Covid-19 over the last six months, rural America is doing much better than the rest of the country," Bill Bishop reports for The Daily Yonder. "For example, in the central cities of the nation’s metropolitan areas with a million or more people, there were 3.6 million fewer jobs this August compared to a year ago. That is a decline of 8%. In the suburbs of those giant cities, the decline in jobs reached 6.9%."
The rural unemployment rate was also lower in August compared with the national average and major cities. "In August, rural counties had an average unemployment rate of 6.8%," Bishop reports. "In the central areas of major metropolitan areas, the unemployment rate in August of this year was 10.3%. The nation as a whole had an unemployment rate of 8.5% in August."
Rural counties that rely on recreation and those that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016 were harder hit than other rural counties. The trend is likely because very rural counties, or counties that didn't have a high employment rate to begin with, have been less affected by pandemic-related job losses, Bishop reports.