Best and Worst Job Markets: 2008

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Job seekers with no ties to any particular location often seek jobs in big cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles or San Francisco. But are these the places where they're most likely to find a job?

Not according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job seekers are better off looking in such cities as Sioux Falls, S.D., Idaho Falls, Idaho, and Rapid City, S.D. All of these cities registered some of the lowest unemployment rates inSeptember 2008.

Low unemployment rates seem harder to come by in today's economy.Unemployment rates were higher in349 of the 369 U.S. metropolitan areas surveyed, which means 92 percent of cities have seen an increase in their unemployment rates. Only 25 areas reported lower rates, while six areas had no change. The national unemployment rate in September, 6 percent, was up 1.5 percent from 4.5 in September 2007.

Tencities recorded jobless rates of at least 10 percent andnine areas registered rates below 3 percent.Eighty-four metropolitan areas posted unemployment rates of at least 7 percent, up from only 17 areas the year before. Only 46 cities had jobless rates below 4 percent, down from133 areas at the same time last year. In total,Among the 310 metropolitan areas for which nonfarm payroll data were available in September 2008, 140 areas reported over-the-year employment gains, 164 reported losses, and 6 had no change.

Despite these startling figures, several citieshave low unemployment rates. Here are30 cities (and theirMetropolitan Statistical Areas)with the lowest unemployment rates, according to the September numbers releasedby the BLS.*


1. Bismarck, N.D.

September 2008 Unemployment Rate: 2.5


2. Casper, Wyo.

September 2008 Unemployment Rate: 2.5


3. Logan, Utah

September 2008 Unemployment Rate: 2.5


4. Sioux Falls, S.D.

September 2008 Unemployment Rate: 2.5


5. Morgantown, W. Va.

September 2008 Unemployment Rate: 2.6


6. Ames, Iowa

September 2008 Unemployment Rate: 2.7


7. Fargo, N.D.

September 2008 Unemployment Rate: 2.8


8. Iowa City, Iowa

September 2008 Unemployment Rate: 2.8


9. Rapid City, S.D.

September 2008 Unemployment Rate: 2.9


10. Lincoln, Neb.

September 2008 Unemployment Rate: 3.0


11. Provo-Orem, Utah

September 2008 Unemployment Rate: 3.0


12. Billings, Mont.

September 2008 Unemployment Rate: 3.1


13. Charleston, W. Va.

September 2008 Unemployment Rate: 3.2


14. Midland, Texas

September 2008 Unemployment Rate: 3.2


15. Salt Lake City, Utah

September 2008 Unemployment Rate: 3.2


16. Idaho Falls, Idaho

September 2008 Unemployment Rate: 3.3


17. Lafayette, La.

September 2008 Unemployment Rate: 3.3


18. Santa Fe, N.M.

September 2008 Unemployment Rate: 3.3


19. Charlottesville, Va.

September 2008 Unemployment Rate: 3.4


20. Farmington, N.M.

September 2008 Unemployment Rate: 3.4


21. Grand Forks, N.D.

September 2008 Unemployment Rate: 3.4


22. Lawton, Okla.

September 2008 Unemployment Rate: 3.4


23. Madison, Wisc.

September 2008 Unemployment Rate: 3.4


24. Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, Ark.-Mo.

September 2008 Unemployment Rate: 3.5


25. Harrisonburg, Va.

September 2008 Unemployment Rate: 3.5


26. Ogden-Clearfield, Utah

September 2008 Unemployment Rate: 3.5


27. Oklahoma City, Okla.

September 2008 Unemployment Rate: 3.5


28. Omaha-Council Bluffs, Neb.-Iowa

September 2008 Unemployment Rate: 3.5


29. Portsmouth, N.H.

September 2008 Unemployment Rate: 3.5


30. Sioux City, Iowa

September 2008 Unemployment Rate: 3.5


Cities with the highest unemployment rates

In contrast, here are the cities with the highest unemployment rates, according to the BLS:*


1. El Centro, Calif.

September 2008 Unemployment Number: 24.5


2. Yuma, Ariz.

September 2008 Unemployment Number: 20.5


3. Yuba City, Calif.

September 2008 Unemployment Number: 11.2


4. Merced, Calif.

September 2008 Unemployment Number: 10.9


5. Flint, Michigan

September 2008 Unemployment Number: 10.8


6. Visalia-Porterville, Calif.

September 2008 Unemployment Number: 10.6


7. Modesto, Calif.

September 2008 Unemployment Number: 10.5


8. Palm Coast, Fla.

September 2008 Unemployment Number: 10.3


9. Stockton, Calif.

September 2008 Unemployment Number: 10.2


10. Sebastian-Vero Beach, Fla.

September 2008 Unemployment Number: 10.1


11. Fresno, Calif.

September 2008 Unemployment Number: 9.6


12. Rocky Mount, N.C.

September 2008 Unemployment Number: 9.6


13. Monroe, Mich.

September 2008 Unemployment Number: 9.5


14. Punta Gorda, Fla.

September 2008 Unemployment Number: 9.5


15. Redding, Calif.

September 2008 Unemployment Number: 9.5


16. Bakersfield, Calif.

September 2008 Unemployment Number: 9.3


17. Elkhart-Goshen, Ind.

September 2008 Unemployment Number: 9.3


18. Hanford-Corcoran, Calif.

September 2008 Unemployment Number: 9.3


19. Jackson, Mich.

September 2008 Unemployment Number: 9.3


20. Port St. Lucie, Fla.

September 2008 Unemployment Number: 9.3


21. Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla.

September 2008 Unemployment Number: 9.2


22. Muskegon-Norton Shores, Mich.

September 2008 Unemployment Number: 9.2


23. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif.

September 2008 Unemployment Number: 9.1


24. Saginaw-Saginaw Township North, Mich.

September 2008 Unemployment Number: 8.9


25. Rockford, Ill.

September 2008 Unemployment Number: 8.8


26. Sumter, S.C.

September 2008 Unemployment Number: 8.8


27. Kankakee-Bradley, Ill.

September 2008 Unemployment Number: 8.5


28. Ocala, Fla.

September 2008 Unemployment Number: 8.5


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*Based on preliminary September numbers accessed October 31, 2008.

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