How Well Have Rural and Small Metropolitan Labor Markets Absorbed Welfare Recipients?. Labor Market Conditions

04/01/2001

As Exhibit 3.4 shows, in three study regions  Rural Mississippi, Southeast Missouri, and Florence, South Carolina  over 20 percent of the residents were living in poverty in 1995. Correspondingly, these three regions have relatively low median household incomes.

Unemployment rates began increasing in most regions sometime after 1989 or 1990 and peaked by 1993 or 1994. In 1993, the unemployment rate reached 10 percent in Southeast Missouri, followed by North Country, New York (9.2 percent), and Central Oregon and Florence, South Carolina (both 8.7 percent). By 1996, unemployment rates had dropped in all regions except Rural Mississippi and the Oregon regions, which did not see a drop in unemployment until 1997. By 1998, seven regions had unemployment rates that were lower than the national average (5.3 percent) and two had rates near the national average (5.5 and 5.7 percent).

Exhibit 3.4 Economic Characteristics
Region Living in Poverty (%) (1995) Median household income ($) (1995) Unemployment Rate (%)
1989 1993 1996 1998

Decatur and Florence, Alabama

13.6 31,584 8.3 7.8 5.7 5.5

Rural Mississippi

22.9 22,861 8.3 6.9 6.9 6.2

Joplin, Missouri

15.0 28,705 5.5 6.2 4.3 4.0

Southeast Missouri

20.5 23,414 7.5 9.9 7.1 5.7

Jamestown, New York

15.8 29,568 6.1 6.8 5.2 5.2

North Country, New York

14.6 29,714 8.8 9.2 8.0 7.9

Medford-Ashland, Oregon

14.7 31,537 6.8 8.4 8.3 6.8

Central Oregon

12.0 33,373 6.6 8.7 8.8 7.1

Florence, South Carolina

20.5 29,541 4.7 8.7 8.4 4.5

Vermont

11.0 33,365 3.5 5.2 4.5 3.4

Eau Claire, Wisconsin (MSA)

10.4 33,538 4.3 5.6 3.7 3.3

Wausau, Wisconsin

7.5 40,078 4.4 5.1 3.9 3.5

United States

13.9 30,272 6.3 6.9 6.0 5.3

Source: Lewin tabulations using the 2000 Area Resource File.

Exhibit 3.5 presents the share of all jobs by major industry for the study regions and the U.S. As this exhibit shows, overall, the regions had a higher share of manufacturing jobs and a lower share of service jobs than the U.S. As discussed in Chapter 2, rural areas had a higher share of manufacturing employment than urban areas, although jobs in this industry continued to decline.

As Exhibit 3.5 also shows, there was some variation across the study regions:

  • Manufacturing jobs were well-represented in Wausau, Wisconsin; Decatur and Florence, Alabama; Jamestown, New York; and Joplin, Missouri (about 25 percent of jobs or higher).
  • Eau Claire had a relatively high share of jobs in the retail trade industry  Eau Claire Countys largest employer was a building materials dealer, which provided over 1,000 jobs.
  • Jobs in the transportation industry were prevalent in Joplin, Missouri.
  • Interestingly, while Vermont was one of the most rural regions, the share of jobs in each industry closely mirrored the U.S.

Finally, it is important to note that we selected regions where the predominant industry was not agriculture because of data limitations; specifically, the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey, which is discussed in Chapter 4 and is used in our analysis, surveys only non-farm establishments.

Exhibit 3.5
Share of Employment in Major Industry By Region, 1998
  Decatur and Florence, AL (%) Rural MS (%) Joplin, MO (%) Southeast MO (%) Jamestown, NY (%) North Country, NY (%) Medford-Ashland, OR (%)

Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing

0.8 2.0 0.8 1.6 1.0 1.0 3.2

Mining

1.1 0.7 0.3 0.9 0.3 0.4 0.1

Construction

6.5 4.8 3.5 4.5 2.7 3.7 5.0

Manufacturing

26.1 26.2 24.5 22.2 24.6 13.2 13.2

Transportation, Communications, Electric, Gas, and Sanitary Services

3.3 4.3 12.8 5.7 4.7 4.6 5.0

Wholesale Trade

5.4 4.1 3.8 5.1 3.5 2.9 4.1

Retail Trade

19.6 17.7 19.7 19.1 18.5 20.4 25.8

Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate

3.8 3.0 2.7 3.2 2.4 2.9 3.7

Services

26.8 31.6 28.3 32.2 35.1 37.1 34.4

Public Administration

6.8 5.7 3.5 5.6 7.1 13.7 5.4

Nonclassifiable

0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.1 0.1

Total Employment

109,875 1,117,066 74,921 186,400 56,290 437,426 69,382
  Central Oregon (%) Florence, SC (%) Vermont (%) Eau Claire, WI (%) Wausau, WI (%) U.S. (%)

Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing

3.1 0.6 1.2 0.5 1.2 1.5

Mining

0.1 0.1 0.2 0.1 0.2 0.5

Construction

7.3 5.1 5.4 4.5 4.4 4.9

Manufacturing

15.4 19.1 16.9 18.2 29.7 15.2

Transportation, Communications, Electric, Gas, and Sanitary Services

3.8 3.9 4.5 4.9 4.7 5.5

Wholesale Trade

4.7 4.5 4.4 3.8 7.5 5.5

Retail Trade

21.9 18.8 18.9 27.1 17.6 18.0

Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate

5.5 7.8 4.3 3.4 7.7 5.9

Services

31.6 33.1 38.4 31.8 22.4 36.7

Public Administration

5.1 6.8 5.9 5.8 4.6 6.1

Nonclassifiable

1.6 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1

Total Employment

56,840 62,363 280,288 73,217 63,725 124,183,551

Source: Lewin tabulations using ES-202 data.