Tuesday, August 24, 2021

The more remote a county, the greater the 20-year job loss, but more educated and recreation-based economies grew

Gain or loss of jobs by county metropolitan or non-metro status, 2000-19
Map by The Daily Yonder; click the image to enlarge it or click here for the interactive version.

The nation gained 20.2 million jobs from 2000 to 2019, a 14.8 percent increase. But rural America lost jobs overall, with half of all counties losing jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But rural-urban differences aren't the only factor influencing job trends.

The data shows "there are two different countries — one that is gaining jobs and people and another that is losing both," Bill Bishop and Robert Cushing report for The Daily Yonder. "The division between those two countries is created not only by the difference between the city and the countryside, but by the structure of local economies and local levels of education."

Bishop and Cushing analyzed job numbers in light of other factors that seem to influence job creation. They found that, in general, the bigger the city, the bigger the percentage increase in jobs over the past 20 years, and vice versa: the more remote the county, the bigger the jobs loss.

Local economies also made a difference, they found. Counties that depended mostly on agriculture lost nearly 3% of their jobs, while manufacturing counties saw a 5.3% increase. "The biggest job gainers in rural America were recreation counties, such as Gallatin County, Montana, and Hawaii County, Hawaii," they report. "In fact, the counties, urban and rural, with the fastest growing job base over the last two decades, according to the USDA Economic Research Service, were places with strong recreation economies. Across the country, recreation counties increased their jobs by just over 25% from 2000 to 2019."

Bishop and Cushing also found that, the larger the share of college-educated adults a county had in 2019, the larger its job gains since 2000. "Counties with 23% or less of the adult population having B.A. degrees in 2019 increased their jobs by just 6% since 2000," Bishop and Cushing report. "Those where more than 40% of the adults had B.A. degrees had a 21.4% increase in jobs over the two decades."

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