The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported yesterday that unemployment rates in September of this year were lower than a year earlier in 212 of the 372 metropolitan areas; higher in 143; and unchanged in 17. Thirteen metropolitan areas registered jobless rates of at least 15% and--on the other side--ten below 5%. National unemployment stood at 9.2% in September (not seasonally adjusted), down from 9.5% a year earlier.
The number of metropolitan areas with at least 10% unemployment decreased over the year from 120 to 104, and 74 recorded unemployment below 7%--up from 71 last year. With an unemployment rate of 30.4%, El Centro, California (focused primarily in agriculture) again landed the unenviable spot atop the list of metropolitan areas.
Of the thirteen areas facing jobless rates above 15%, nine were located in California; the area with the lowest rate--Bismarck, North Dakota--had one of just 2.8%. 238 metropolitan areas had lower unemployment rates than the national average of 9.2%, 133 had rates exceeding it, and one had an equal rate.
Among the 49 metropolitan areas attributed more than 1 million residents by the 2000 Census, Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev. and Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif., had the highest unemployment rates, checking in at 15% and 14.8%, respectively.