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Aruba, April 21, 2012 - When the U.S. labor market is discussed, the national figures naturally take center stage. But the employment picture across the country can be very different -- not just between states, but from city to city, too. The recent jobs figures for February show a great variation among the country’s largest metropolitan areas. While some are doing extremely well, others are plagued with astronomical unemployment rates that are getting even worse.

The five worst-off metropolitan regions had unemployment rates of 17.6 percent or more in February -- more than double the national unemployment rate of 8.7 percent. Meanwhile, the five best regions had unemployment rates of 4.2 percent or less -- less than half the national average. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the jobs market conditions in the five best and five worst-off cities.
Between February 2011 and February 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the non-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate nationwide fell from 9.5 percent to 8.7 percent. In most of the nation’s largest metropolitan regions, the jobless rate followed a similar pattern. However, in 19 cities -- the majority of which are in New York State -- the jobless rate worsened rather than improved.

When examining just the cities with the highest unemployment rates, it is not surprising to find that they, too, are bucking the national trend, improving at a considerably slower rate than the national average. In one case, Yuma, Ariz., unemployment did not improve at all, and even got worse, increasing by 9.2 percent in one year.
Similarly, the regions with the lowest jobless rates generally improved at an even higher rate than the national average. This was the case in four of these five metropolitan regions. Unemployment in Midland, Texas, which already had the fourth-lowest rate in the country in February 2011, fell -- that is, improved -- by nearly 20 percent in 12 months.

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