Posted May 03, 2012 by

Unemployment Rates Fall in 342 of 372 Metros; San Francisco Best of the Best

Bureau of Labor StatisticsUnemployment rates were lower in March than a year earlier in 342 of the 372 metropolitan areas, higher in 16 areas, and unchanged in 14 areas, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Thirteen areas recorded jobless rates of at least 15.0 percent, while 17 areas registered rates of less than 5.0 percent. Two hundred sixty-seven metropolitan areas reported over-the-year increases in nonfarm payroll employment, 96 reported decreases, and 9 had no change. The national unemployment rate in March was 8.4 percent, not seasonally adjusted, down from 9.2 percent a year earlier.

Metropolitan Area Unemployment (Not Seasonally Adjusted)

In March, 54 metropolitan areas reported jobless rates of at least 10.0 percent, down from 116 areas a year earlier, while 109 areas posted rates below 7.0 percent, up from 62 areas in March of last year. El Centro, Calif., and Yuma, Ariz., recorded the highest unemployment rates in March, 26.2 and 23.8 percent, respectively. Ten of the other 11 areas with jobless rates of at least 15.0 percent were located in California. Bismarck, N.D., registered the lowest unemployment rate, 3.5 percent, followed by Lincoln, Neb., and Midland, Texas, 3.7 percent each. A total of 220 areas recorded March unemployment rates below the U.S. figure of 8.4 percent, 141 areas reported rates above it, and 11 areas had rates equal to that of the nation.

The largest over-the-year unemployment rate decreases in March were registered in Detroit-Warren-Livonia, Mich., and Monroe, Mich. (-2.5 percentage points each). An additional 18 areas had decreases of 2.0 percentage points or more from a year earlier. Yuma, Ariz., reported the largest over-the-year jobless rate increase (+1.7 percentage points). Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, Wash., recorded the only other increase larger than 1.0 percentage point (+1.4 points).

Among the 49 metropolitan areas with a Census 2000 population of 1 million or more, the highest unemployment rates in March were registered in Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif., 12.7 percent, and Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev., 12.1 percent. Three additional large areas posted rates of 10.0 percent or more. The lowest jobless rate among the large areas was recorded in Oklahoma City, Okla., 4.4 percent. Forty-six of the large areas reported over-the-year unemployment rate decreases, while three areas registered increases. Detroit-Warren-Livonia, Mich., experienced the largest unemployment rate decline from March 2011 (-2.5 percentage points), followed by Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, Fla., and Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla. (-2.2 and -2.0 points, respectively). Seventeen other large areas reported rate decreases of at least 1.0 percentage point. No large area had an increase greater than 0.4 percentage point.

Metropolitan Division Unemployment (Not Seasonally Adjusted)

Eleven of the most populous metropolitan areas are made up of 34 metropolitan divisions, which are essentially separately identifiable employment centers. In March 2012, Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif., registered the highest jobless rate among the divisions, 11.9 percent. Framingham, Mass., reported the lowest division rate, 4.7 percent. (See table 2.)

Thirty-two of the metropolitan divisions recorded over-the-year jobless rate decreases in March, while one division registered an increase and one had no change. Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall, Fla., posted the largest rate decline from a year earlier (-2.7 percentage points), followed by Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, Mich., and Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn, Mich. (-2.6 and -2.5 points, respectively). Twelve other divisions reported rate decreases of 1.0 percentage point or more. New York-White Plains-Wayne, N.Y.-N.J., experienced the only unemployment rate increase from a year earlier (+0.7 percentage point).

In 6 of the 11 metropolitan areas that contain divisions, the ranges between the highest and lowest division jobless rates were 2.0 percentage points or more in March. Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, Mass.-N.H., recorded the largest rate difference among its divisions, 5.9 percentage points (Lawrence-Methuen-Salem, Mass.-N.H., 10.6 percent, compared with Framingham, Mass., 4.7 percent).

Metropolitan Area Nonfarm Employment (Not Seasonally Adjusted)

In March, 267 metropolitan areas reported over-the-year increases in nonfarm payroll employment, 96 reported decreases, and 9 had no change. The largest over-the-year employment increase occurred in New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, N.Y.-N.J.-Pa. +112,500), followed by Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas (+82,300), Dallas- Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas (+70,000), and Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, Calif. (+63,100). The largest over-the-year percentage gain in employment was reported in Ocean City, N.J. (+11.1 percent), followed by Lafayette, La., and Odessa, Texas (+9.5 percent each), and Columbus, Ind. (+8.9 percent). (See table 3.)

The largest over-the-year decreases in employment occurred in Fort Smith, Ark.-Okla. (-7,300), and Augusta-Richmond County, Ga.-S.C. (-5,900). The largest over-the-year percentage decrease in employment was reported in Ithaca, N.Y. (-6.7 percent), followed by Fort Smith, Ark.-Okla. (-6.3 percent), and Dalton, Ga. (-5.7 percent).

Over the year, nonfarm employment rose in 34 of the 37 metropolitan areas with annual average employment levels above 750,000 in 2011. The largest over-the-year percentage increases in employment in these large metropolitan areas were posted in San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif. (+3.4 percent), and Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas (+3.2 percent). The largest over-the-year percentage decreases in employment occurred in Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, Wis. (-0.5 percent), and Sacramento–Arden-Arcade–Roseville, Calif. (-0.3 percent).

Metropolitan Division Nonfarm Employment (Not Seasonally Adjusted)

Nonfarm payroll employment data were available in March for 32 metropolitan divisions, which are essentially separately identifiable employment centers within a metropolitan area. Twenty-eight of the 32 metropolitan divisions reported over-the-year employment gains, while 4 reported losses. The largest over-the-year employment increases in the metropolitan divisions occurred in New York-White Plains-Wayne, N.Y.-N.J. (+76,800), Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas (+46,500), and Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, Ill. (+42,300). The largest over-the-year decrease in employment among the metropolitan divisions was in Nashua, N.H.-Mass. (-2,700). (See table 4.)

The largest over-the-year percentage increase in employment among the metropolitan divisions was reported in San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, Calif. (+2.9 percent), followed by Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas (+2.7 percent), and Haverhill-North Andover-Amesbury, Mass.-N.H., Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash., and Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, Mich. (+2.5 percent each). The largest over-the-year percentage decrease in employment occurred in Nashua, N.H.-Mass. (-2.2 percent).

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