The Daily Yonder has some fairly interesting analysis of a new Bureau of Labor Statistics report on unemployment in rural areas. Using the author's somewhat tounge-in-cheek nomenclature, most of the Great Plains falls into the "What Recession?" category of low unemployment. What the post fails to mention is that much of the area has seen a steady population decline (as I discussed here), so there are fewer people to do at least the same amount of work. And only people in my family (including myself) seem to be crazy enough to move back out here without a job lined up in advance. Still, the unemployment levels look much better here than what they have in much of the South, where many counties are saying, "What Recovery?" instead.
According to The Dallas Morning News, the problem of high unemployment is contributing to excellent results for military recruiters - particularly in rural areas of the South. The article quotes the Department of Defense's data, saying "Southern states account for 36 percent of the nation's young adults... but provide 41 percent of the nation's recruits."
If some of those rural recruits would like to get into farming when their service has ended, they may be able to get some assistance, according to DTN/The Progressive Farmer. The University of Nebraska-Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture (NCTA) has a relatively new program - available to young veterans from anywhere in the country - called "Combat Boots to Cowboy Boots." A major goal of the program is to help revitalize rural areas by "send[ing] students back to the farm as owners instead of as hired hands."
Other young people may want to stay involved in agriculture, but may not be able or willing to directly work on the family farms many of them hail from. Another DTN article reports that these types of jobs are actually going through something of a boom, with a high demand in the industry for young adults with a practical familiarity with farming. One drawback to this is that, while the jobs may be related to agriculture, more often than not they are not in the small, rural communities that would be grateful to see their young people return.
The people replacing some of those young people, according to a Wall Street Journal blog could be... lawyers. A blogger on the legal profession named Eric Cooperstein is cited as encouraging lawyers to consider moving to the country, writing (among other things), "The folk in small towns sometimes get divorced, commit the occasional DWI, and get in car accidents. They need local lawyers and they do not want to pay for some lawyer from the city to drive out to the rural courthouse to represent them."
With that in mind, let me leave you with this thought from Will Rogers (with a wink toward my attorney friends): "Make crime pay. Become a lawyer."