The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released a report this week on metropolitan area employment over the past year, and their findings suggested economic improvement over that period. The BLS Editor's Desk writes: "Unemployment rates were lower in October than a year earlier in 281 of the 372 metropolitan areas, higher in 76 areas, and unchanged in 15 areas. Eight areas recorded jobless rates of at least 15.0 percent, while 21 areas registered rates of less than 5.0 percent." The national unemployment rate checked in at 8.5 percent this October, down from 9.0 percent a year ago.
Unemployment dropped the most in Muskegon-Norton Shores, Michigan (-2.6 percentage points), followed by El Centro, California; Farmington, New Mexico; and Flint, Michigan, all three of which saw a decrease of 2.5 percentage points in the unemployment rate. On the other end, Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, Washington, witnessed the largest increase in unemployment, as the jobless rate rose 1.7 percentage points over the year. It was followed by Yakima, Washington (+ 1.3 percentage points); Pascagoula, Mississippi (+ 1.3 points); and Jacksonville, North Carolina (+1.2 points).
A smaller percentage of metropolitan areas saw increases in nonfarm payroll employment, though a majority still did: "From October 2010 to October 2011, 233 metropolitan areas reported over-the-year increases in nonfarm payroll employment, 133 reported decreases, and 6 had no change."
Metropolitan areas with the largest percentage gains in employment were led by Kankakee-Bradley, Illinois (+ 6.5 percentage points), followed by Hot Springs, Arkansas (+ 6.2 points), and Victoria, Texas (+ 5.5 points). The largest reported losses were in Missoula, Montana (- 5.4 points), Abilene, Texas (- 5.2 points), and Dalton, Georgia (- 4.7 points)."