Worst Cities for Unemployment

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By Ed Orum for AOL Find a Job

unemploymentIf you think it's tough to find a job where you live, consider yourself lucky you're not looking in El Centro, California - the unemployment rate hit 30 percent there in September. To be fair, even when times were good in the rest of the U.S., El Centro still struggled with a 20 percent unemployment rate.

Why is it so bad there? El Centro, like many other communities in the U.S., rely on one business for most of their lifeblood. In this case, it's agriculture. When was the last time someone told you they were starting a farm?


Where you live will have an impact on how long you'll be looking for a job.

According to a report from IHS Global Insight, unemployment rates in some cities and states will continue to climb, while others will drop. We're recovering, but not everywhere all at once - it's a slow burn, currently confined to small pockets across the country.

Consider Bismark, N.D. - folks there may have bone-chilling winters to cope with, but they're probably not swapping layoff stories around the fire - the unemployment rate was just 2.9 percent in September. In fact, personal income grew in the state by nearly 2 percent last quarter - more than any other state in the U.S., and way more than the dismal 0.2 rate nationally.

On the flip side, some of the hardest hit states include California, Michigan, Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Indiana. IHS says we might see unemployment rates hovering around 15 percent in these places, even this time next year.

As in El Centro, other California cities will see unemployment rates stay high through next year - Merced, Modesto, Fresno, Redding, Stockton and Hanford-Corcoran will struggle with 15 percent unemployed, largely due to their concentration on agriculture, and young and immigrant demographics.

Michigan cities like Detroit and Flint that depend on the auto industry will continue to slump. IHS expects their current 15 percent unemployment rate to increase to 17 percent by the end of next year. Same goes for Rockford, Illinois and Elkhart, Indiana, where nosediving sales of RV's have put manufacturing workers on hold.

Sure, it all sounds scary, but there is hope. First to the recovery finish line will be states in the central part of the U.S. - from Texas to Montana. They've weathered the recession storm better because their housing market didn't expand and contract as fast as in other places.

A good place to get some specific information about conditions where you live is the Federal Reserve's survey known as the "Beige Book." While the information might not help you land a job, it may help you feel a bit better about your current situation, and give you some insights into when the market might improve.

Next: 8 Small Towns With High Employment Rates >>


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Ed is a journalist who has worked for some of the largest media organizations in the U.S. His career has taken him to places big and small across the nation. With experience at various employers, Ed's career has run the gamut - he's been hired, been the one doing the hiring, quit and, most recently, laid off for the first time.

Thankfully, Ed has never been fired, although many years ago he once came close while working part-time at a pizza place - turns out it was a misunderstanding.

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