Cheer Up Michigan! You're Better Off than California

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All you comment leavers from Michigan who are concerned that your state is going to hell in a hand basket and your jobs are going right along with it can take heart: Recent statistics released by the Bureau of Labor Services show that California's employment problems are even worse than yours.

Among the 17 areas with jobless rates of at least 15.0 percent in November, 11 were located in California, while only three were in Michigan. It's not Detroit that has the highest percentage, but the arid El Centro, Calif., and neighboring Yuma, Ariz. areas that continue to record the highest unemployment rates, at 29.2 and 21.1 percent, respectively.

I realize this is cold comfort for many, quite literally when I tell you that the are with the lowest unemployment rate is Bismarck, N.D., whose rate was 3.4 percent in November. And that's followed by Fargo, N.D.-Minn., and Grand Forks, N.D.-Minn., with 3.7 percent each. And one last piece of frigid news: Unemployment rates were higher in November than a year earlier in all 372 metropolitan areas of the good old U. S. of A.

But I can hardly leave you on that dismal note. While no metropolitan area posted an over-the-year unemployment rate decrease, 16 areas reported rate increases of less than a full percentage point--at least that's something. And when we're talking about large metropolitan areas with a million residents or more, the ones with the lowest jobless rates in November were, surprisingly enough, New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, La., and Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Va.-Md.-W.Va., at 6.1 percent each, and Oklahoma City, Okla., 6.4 percent.

The real test will skip over December unemployment numbers, which are affected by holiday season temp hires, and be reflected in the January numbers. Will employers keep some of those temp workers, in anticipation of a strengthening economy? Check back here, and I'll let you know.

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