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Status of Education in Rural America
NCES 2007-040
June 2007

2.11. Employment of adults


In 2004, the unemployment rate for adults ages 25 to 34 was lower in rural areas than in cities and towns, and the unemployment rate for adults ages 35 to 64 was lower in rural areas than in all other locales.

In 2004, some 82 percent of young adults participated in the labor force (table 2.11). For the purposes of this analysis, young adults are defined as all civilian adults from the age of 25 to 34. The labor force participation rate for young adults in rural areas (81 percent) was not measurably different from the national rate or from the rates in all other locales. Nationally, the labor force participation rate among young adults was higher for males (91 percent) than for females (74 percent). The same was true for young adults in rural areas (92 vs. 72 percent, respectively).

Older adults, for the purposes of this analysis, are defined as all civilian adults from the age of 35 to 64. The overall labor force participation rate for older adults (76 percent) was lower than that for young adults (82 percent), but across locales and by sex the rates for older adults followed patterns similar to those of the rates for young adults. The labor force participation rate for older adults in rural areas (74 percent) was not measurably different from the national rate or the rates in other locales, with the exception of suburban areas (78 percent). As among young adults, the labor force participation rate in all locales was higher among older adults who were male (81 to 86 percent) than female (67 to 71 percent).

The unemployment rate for young adults across the nation in 2004 was 7.2 percent. In rural areas, the unemployment rate for young adults (6.7 percent) was lower than in cities (8.0 percent) or towns (8.3 percent), but not measurably different from the rate in suburban areas (figure 2.11). This same pattern held true among both males and females, although in all locales, female young adults had higher unemployment rates than male young adults.

The national unemployment rate among older adults (5.2 percent) was lower than among young adults (7.2 percent) (table 2.11). The unemployment rate for older adults in rural areas (4.5 percent) was lower than that in cities (6.4 percent), towns (5.5 percent), or suburban areas (4.8 percent). This same pattern generally held true among both males and females, with one exception: the unemployment rates for male older adults in rural areas (4.4 percent) and in suburbs were not measurably different. While the national unemployment rate was higher among female older adults (5.4 percent) than male older adults (5.1 percent), there was no measurable difference between the unemployment rates of older males and older females in rural areas.

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