First, a staggering statistic: “Eighty-two percent of U.S. counties experienced job losses as a result of the recession.” WOW! But, there’s more…
“Some places were hit much harder than others, and some have recovered more rapidly,” says a recent USDA report.
Surprisingly, the Plains states in the Midwest seem to have made it out relatively unscathed with the lowest unemployment rates in the country. USDA researchers asked “Why?” in their new report. Here’s what they found (adapted from this Daily Yonder article):
“The Plains States’ favorable mix of industries at the start of the recession served to moderate the recession-induced increase in unemployment,” the report said. “In particular, Plains counties were far more likely to have farming-dependent economies,… and this reduced unemployment rates…”
Fewer manufacturing jobs
Some of the hardest hit counties were industrial states, like Michigan. The mining/logging industry has helped many northern Plains states.
Higher percentage of college graduates
“This college-educated share was higher in the average county in the Plains States (52%, including both those with some college education and 4-year-college graduates) than in non-Plains counties (46 percent),” the report said. “During the recession, their higher levels of education served to limit the increase in unemployment in Plains counties.”
“And finally, there’s a more ominous reason for the relatively strong unemployment performance of Plains States,” writes Daily Yonder editor Tim Marema. “Those states also tended to be losing population. That means fewer people looking for work and, in turn, fewer people who are unemployed.”
Take a look at the full USDA report and see if it rings true for your county.
You can check out the most recent unemployment data in this Daily Yonder article.