In the chart below I show job growth per 1000 residents from July 2010 to June 2011.
The best performance is coming from poor, heavily rural states. Remember how I said that rural areas shed jobs from 2002 to 2009? That seems to have been completely turned on its head. The only way I can make sense of the latest numbers is that rural areas seem to be adding a lot of jobs. This is obviously due to higher commodity prices, especially higher farm prices.
A Rural Boom?
Each economic upswing seems to have a theme. In the 90s it was the internet, and in the 00s it was housing. I think that one of the themes in the next upswing is going to be a boom in rural economies. Perhaps the next bubble will be in the price of farmland.
Job creation in rural areas also explains why many of the jobs created are low wage, as this New York Times story reports. Those are the kind of jobs that rural areas tend to have.
Rural economies have been through many years of hard times and it will take many good years before these areas start to look prosperous. Republican voters are more likely to be rural than Democrats. If people see hiring in their local economies, they are more likely to oppose government spending on stimulus. That may explain some of our political divide.