There are 263,000 fewer jobs in rural counties today than in 2007, a decline of 3%. The number of unemployed has increased by 198,000 in the last six years. (The difference between the loss of jobs and the increase in unemployment is a result of fewer people looking for work in those counties, through relocation, death or giving up the job search.)
Cities have 90 percent of the increase in unemployed. Rural and small town counties have 90 percent of the decrease in jobs.
- Franklin Parish, LA (Winnfield) - 604 jobs
- Philips County, AR (Helena) - 1,293 jobs
- Washington County, MS (Greenville) - 2,493 jobs
- Dallas County, AL (Selma) - 1,865 jobs
- Dillon County, SC (Dillon) - 638 jobs
- Bertie County, NC (Windsor) - 968 jobs
This map and these figures, though jarring, are not terribly surprising. To the average American, there is little that exists to attract him or her to a rural community, much less the rural South, which means that there is certainly little incentive for a company with even minimal mobility to stick around. Familial ties and isolated schemes simply aren't enough to stop this job loss.
When it comes to stopping the bleeding, I have yet to see any coherent strategies for the instigation of long-term development in the South, though some efforts elsewhere - most notably in Nebraska and in fossil fuel-driven economies like those in the Dakotas and Texas - seem to be making a real dent. In the South, though, there is simply no present rural equivalent to the coalitions devoted to economic growth in towns like Nashville and New Orleans. (No region-wide efforts that would improve quality of life for a similar number of people, that is.)
If that doesn't change - and soon, we can expect the rural South to be much poorer than the rest of the country for a long time to come.