In August, 2014, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service issued a report examining the effects of the recent major recession, and gradual recovery, on employment and unemployment trends, with an emphasis on rural America.
To quote the authors of the report,
In December 2007, six years of economic growth ended as the U.S. economy entered the most severe recession since the Great Depression. Despite starting earlier and falling slightly more, employment trends in rural (nonmetro) areas followed much the same pattern as urban (metro) areas during the recession and the beginning of the economic recovery. Beginning in 2011, nonmetro employment grew much more slowly than urban employment, and growth fell to zero or slightly below throughout 2012 and 2013.
Preliminary data for 2014 show an uptick in nonmetro employment; however, at the end of the second quarter of 2014, nonmetro employment remained 3.5 percent below its pre-recession peak while metro employment exceeded pre-recession levels. A lower (often negative) rate of population growth, and an older, less-educated work force have all contributed to sluggish employment growth in nonmetro counties since the end of the 2007/09 recession.
The complete report can be found on the USDA wesbsite.