NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Small Firms Search For High-Unemployment Counties

July 9, 1998

Some counties scattered throughout the nation haven't participated in the nation's economic boom. These pockets still experience double-digit unemployment. But they are becoming magnets for small manufacturers in search of reliable work forces.

  • Of the 3,140 counties in the U.S., 132 had unemployment rates above 10 percent in May, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • In the course of a year, the proportion of counties experiencing double-digit unemployment has dropped from nearly 8 percent to about 4.2 percent.
  • Despite the improvement, life can be harsh in these pockets of joblessness -- but small businesses see such areas as opportunities and are coming to the rescue.
  • That may be why the number of counties with unemployment rates above 15 percent has dropped from 49 to 14 over the course of a year.

Large employers can't consider small counties because their labor pool is isn't big enough. And local leaders say they prefer companies which may hire only four persons, because their communities would not be devastated if several small employers went under or pulled out.

Source: Del Jones, "Small Companies Tap Rural America's Labor," USA Today, July 9, 1998.


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