rural Colorado hit hard by recession

My post on rural unemployment rates the other day showed that many of the state’s larger rural regions have below average unemployment rates. That was interesting, especially if you consider the following chart, which shows employment in non-metro counties fell further relative to their pre-recessionary share in metro counties (those in an MSA). Data is seasonally adjusted from BLS–non-metro employment is calculated as the difference between total state employment and total MSA employment.

Roughly speaking, employment in non-metro counties stood at about 304,500 in March, representing 13.5 percent of total state employment. The chart shows that all non-metro counties followed the same general pattern as the metro counties, but fell much further. Today, rural counties have about 6 percent fewer jobs than they did at the start of the Great Recession. By comparison, metro counties are at 98 percent of their pre-recessionary employment levels.

I have not had a chance to look at why this is happening, but my speculation is that the health care sector, which continues to add jobs in the state did not grow fast in non-metro counties as it did in the metro ones.

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