Unemployment in the countryside rose by 73% in the second half of last year, leaving almost 250,000 people out of work, according to a government report.
While those working in the countryside have traditionally been more likely to retain their jobs than their urban counterparts, the same period saw urban unemployment rise by 39%. This is the first time the recession has been seen to have an impact on the countryside, the Telegraph has reported.
The report, carried out by the government’s rural advisory organisation, the Commission for Rural Communities, also found one in four households in rural areas in ‘income poverty’, compared with one-fifth of the country as a whole.
The government’s chief adviser on the countryside, Stuart Burgess, blamed the job losses on the fall in farming incomes, small businesses struggling to survive, and the loss of public sector organisations or big companies with the potential to employ whole areas or communities.
He said while the activities of people in rural areas added £145bn a year to the economy, this would be lost without greater investment in faster broadband, affordable homes and training for young people.