Regional Unemployment Rates Vary Greatly
With the national unemployment rate at a reasonable 4.8%, a glance around the nation finds that the individual cities and regions that comprise the aggregate numbers can vary quite a bit. December, 2005 statistics posted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that of 367 metropolitan regions throughout the country, 311 posted year over year increases in non-farm employment, with 49 posting decreases and 7 remaining unchanged. Smaller regions with fewer than 650,000 workers added the highest percentage of jobs, with Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and Yuba City, California each showing employment increases of 8.2% over December, 2004. El Centro, California and St. George, Utah noted increases of 7.9% and 7.8%, respectively, while Yuma, Arizona posted an increase of 7.2%.
Among metropolitan regions with more than 650,000 workers, the following eight posted the largest increases:
- Las Vegas-Paradise, Nevada: 7.0%
- Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Arizona: 4.8%
- Orlando, Florida: 4.2%
- Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Washington: 3.3%
- Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, North Carolina: 3.2%
- Washington D.C.-Arlington-Alexandria, Virginia: 2.8%
- Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton, Oregon: 2.7%
- Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Florida: 2.5%
Only three cities with over 650,000 workers posted employment losses, including the greater Cleveland metro area, Indianapolis, Indiana and the greater Detroit metro area. Overall, the largest decreases in employment occurred in the New Orleans metro area (31.8% decrease) and the Gulfport-Biloxi metro area (23.3% decrease). Those large drops in employment are due almost entirely to the effects of Hurricane Katrina. Among states, Mississippi posted the highest overall unemployment rate in the BLS year-end study, coming in at 9.9%.