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The most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that rural labor markets are still suffering economic fallout from the COVID-19 health crisis. The May jobs numbers revealed a seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate of 11.0 percent for counties outside of metropolitan areas. The revised rural unemployment rate for April was 13.6 percent. Across the nation over 2.8 million rural workers were unemployed in May. Like the health crisis itself, rates of unemployment varied by county, but most rural communities still have unprecedented unemployment rates.
Potential Unemployment Ramifications for Rural Housing
Jobs and employment conditions have traditionally been a bellwether and leading indicator for housing trends. While the unemployment caused by COVID-19 is unprecedented and unpredictable, such high jobless rates signal the potential for serious concerns across the housing spectrum. Many Americans have been buoyed by large scale federal unemployment benefits and economic stimulus. But most of those resources are slated to end later this summer. If rural unemployment rates remain anywhere near these historic levels, the collateral impacts to almost all sectors of the housing market could be substantial – notably the ability of unemployed households to make rent and mortgage payments.
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