Every month we report the unemployment rates for rural and exurban counties and for the past several months, those rates have been going down. In November, the unemployment rates continued to edge down, especially in exurban counties.

That's good news, and we'll get to that in a minute. But something else caught our eye as we were looking at the latest employment figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There were fewer people in the rural workforce this November than in November of 2011.

Total workforce includes all those people who are either working or looking for work. In exurban counties, the workforce increased by 42,000 people since 2011. In urban counties, the workforce increased by more than 360,000. (Exurban counties are in metro regions, but most people who live there reside in rural settings.)

In rural counties, however, the workforce decreased by nearly 75,000 people. There were 75,000 fewer workers available in rural counties this November than in November of 2011.

This doesn't mean rural America lost jobs in the last year. In fact, rural counties had 133,000 more jobs this November than in November 2011.

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