Is Your City More or Less Jobless?

unemploymentIt's no surprise that recently released numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that 31 of the 32 metropolitan divisions in the US reported overall employment losses in 2009. What might come as a mildly pleasant surprise to some, however, is that one city area actually showed an employment increase over the year. That would be Bethesda-Frederick-Rockville, Maryland, which had an over-the-year increase of 3,100 jobs.

That might not sound like a lot to you, but the folks in the Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, Illinois area would sure appreciate it. They experienced the biggest number of job losses, at 163,200. The next largest over-the-year employment losses were experienced by Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, California (‑115,300), and New York-White Plains-Wayne, N.Y.-N.J. (‑103,500).

Good Company

At least those areas are in good company. Nineteen areas recorded jobless rates of at least 15.0 percent, while 10 areas registered rates below 5.0 percent. That averages out to the 9.7 percent unemployment rate you've heard so much about lately, up from 7.1 percent a year earlier.

Breaking it Down Further

Breaking those numbers down to cities, as opposed to several-city divisions, El Centro, Calif., continued to record the highest unemployment rate, 27.7 percent. Merced, Calif., registered the next highest rate, 19.8 percent. In fact, among the 19 areas with jobless rates of at least 15.0 percent, 12 were located in California and 3 were in Michigan.

Fargo, N.D.-Minn., registered the lowest unemployment rate in December at 4.0 percent, closely followed by Grand Forks, N.D.-Minn., and Lincoln, Neb., at 4.1 percent each.

Largest Jobless Increases

Weirton-Steubenville, W.Va.-Ohio, recorded the largest jobless rate increase in the nation from December 2008 (+5.9 percentage points). The areas with the next largest rate increases were Farmington, N.M. (+5.4 percentage points); Decatur, Ill., and Palm Coast, Fla. (+5.1 points each); and Casper, Wyo., and Peoria, Ill. (+5.0 points each).

Only one city area, Elkhart-Goshen, Ind., posted an unemployment rate decrease over the year of 1.2 percentage points to 14.8 percent.

Big City Numbers

Of the 49 metropolitan areas with a Census 2000 population of 1 million or more, Detroit-Warren-Livonia, Mich., reported the highest unemployment rate in December, 14.9 percent. The large area with the next highest rate was Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif., 14.0 percent.

It wasn't so bad for everyone, however. The large areas with the lowest jobless rates in December were Oklahoma City, Okla., and Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Va.-Md.-W.Va., 6.0 and 6.2 percent, respectively.

It's also promising to note that the largest over-the-year increases in employment occurred in Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, Wash. (+3,700), Bloomington, Ind., and McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas (+1,800 each), and St. Joseph, Mo.-Kan. (+1,100).

If we didn't mention your city, know that it falls somewhere in the middle, neither at the top of unemployment rates, nor at the bottom. Sometimes it's okay to be in the middle.

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