MEDIA RELEASE: Rural counties in North Carolina struggle in economic recovery

MEDIA RELEASE: Rural counties in North Carolina struggle in economic recovery
Rural areas experiencing jobs deficit, higher unemployment than urban counties

RALEIGH (Oct. 28. 2011) — Rural counties in North Carolina appear to be more recovery-proof than urban counties in terms of job creation, according to numbers released by the North Carolina Employment Security Commission this morning.

Out of North Carolina’s 85 rural counties, 53 had unemployment rates over 10 percent in September, while only 5 out of the state’s 15 urban counties had similarly high rates. The average unemployment rate for rural counties (10.7 percent) is a full percentage point higher than the average jobless rate of 9.7 percent for urban counties.

Over the past year, rural counties have seen their unemployment rates go up significantly more than their urban counterparts. Since September 2010, the rural unemployment rate jumped from 9.8 to 10.7 percent. Urban counties only saw a minimal increase, from 9.3 to 9.7 percent.

On top of high unemployment, rural North Carolina is experiencing a serious jobs deficit between the number of jobs filled in the months before the recession began in December 2007 and the number of jobs filled this September. Allan Freyer, a public policy analyst with the NC Budget & Tax Center, noted that rural communities would need to expand their employment by 165,300 jobs simply to return to the employment levels seen before the recession in September 2007.

Meanwhile, urban labor markets have recovered somewhat better—urban counties have a jobs deficit of only 111,234.

“The labor market across the state is still struggling to recover from the recent recession, but rural communities are unquestionably suffering the most,” Freyer said. “Rural North Carolina is seeing higher unemployment rates and needs to create thousands more jobs than the state’s urban counties in order to catch up to pre-recession levels.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Allan Freyer, Public Policy Analyst, NC Budget and Tax Center,, 919.856.2151; Jeff Shaw, Director of Communications, NC Justice Center,, 503.551.3615 (cell).

The N.C. Budget and Tax Center—a project of the N.C. Justice Center—seeks to create economic opportunity and shared prosperity for all North Carolinians through non-partisan research, education and advocacy on budget, tax and economic issues.