Employment and Commuting in Appalachia

Appalachia’s labor force participation rates, and the employment rate of those participants, increased in 2017-2021. With 95.5% of Appalachia’s labor force employed, the Region is on par with the national average. However, participation in the civilian labor force for Appalachians ages 25-64 is more than four percentage points below the nation as a whole. This gap is even greater in certain areas of the Region. 

Learn more about trends in Appalachia’s labor force, employment, and unemployment.

Labor Force Participation
Employment Rate

Labor Force Participation in Appalachia

Unemployment by Subregion

Appalachia’s unemployment rate (4.5%) for working-age adults was 1.7 percentage points lower in 2017-2021 than in 2012-2016. As the unemployment rate fell, the employment rate increased, especially in Southern Appalachia. Among the states, employment increased the most in the Appalachian sections of Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Kentucky, and South Carolina

Transportation and Commuting Patterns

In 2017-2021, 6.8% of Appalachian households lacked an available vehicle to get to current and/or potential employment, down 0.7 points from 2012-2016. Within the Region, the decline occurred among every subregion, every rural-urban county type, and in the Appalachian portions of all 13 states.

Employment Location

Over 31% of Appalachians commute to work outside of the county they live in, surpassing the national average of 26.4%. This could be due to fewer nearby employment opportunities in the Region.
Appalachian Development Highlight System Corridor 8, Near Norton, VA