America's uneven jobs recovery

Nationally, the numbers are improving, but unemployment remains a stubborn problem in some cities and regions.

By Bruce Kennedy Mar 26, 2013 1:58PM

Image: Construction workers (© image100/Corbis)When it comes to employment rates, America's major metropolitan areas have received mixed news. Data released last week by the Department of Labor found that nonfarm, nonseasonal jobless rates were lower in nearly two-thirds of 372 U.S. cities in January -- but higher in 124 areas and unchanged in 21 other cities.

A dozen areas had jobless rates of at least 15%, and 80 metropolitan areas had unemployment rates of at least 10%, although that's an improvement on the figures released a year ago.

Yuma, Ariz., battered by a poor housing market, and El Centro, Calif., had the highest unemployment rates in January, at 26.5% and 25.8%, respectively. The majority of cities with the worst jobless rates were located in California, while three others were in New Jersey. The cities listed in the Garden State were in areas that were ravaged by Superstorm Sandy but could see employment rebound as the cleanup continues and local industries recover.

But the numbers in California, says 24/7 Wall St., "show how intractable the jobless problem can be and how, in some areas, it has gone without solution."

As the website points out, most of the California cites with high unemployment are in the state's center and have been hit by a triple whammy of a collapsed real estate, softer agricultural prices and the long-term effects of the state's ongoing financial crisis.

In terms of overall lowest unemployment rates, the honors for January went to Midland, Texas (3.4%), followed by Bismark, N.D., and Odessa, Texas -- both at 4.1%. The cities with the largest, year-over-year decreases were Las Vegas (-2.3%) and Ocala, Fla. (-2%). The Bureau of Labor Statistics says 59 other metropolitan areas had jobless rates drop by at least one percentage point in January.

Of the 49 U.S. cities with a population of 1 million or more, per the 2000 Census, two had jobless rates over 11%: Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. (11.5%) and Detroit-Warren-Livonia, Mich. (11.3%). At the other end of the big-city spectrum, Oklahoma City's jobless rate was lowest in January at 5.2%, followed by the Austin, Texas, region and metropolitan Washington, D.C., both at 5.8%.

At least now there's optimism that the recovering housing market could mean more construction jobs, which will in turn revive employment rates nationwide. Government figures quoted by the Pew Charitable Trusts noted about half of all job losses at the start of the recession were in the construction and manufacturing sectors, with construction suffering the worst drop since World War II.

But industry officials worry the continued budget quarrels in Congress could undermine the sector's recovery and hurt overall construction job creation.

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Mar 26, 2013 4:17PM
People don't worry about jobs and wages!  As long as the FED prints money and keeps the stock market up everything will be peachy keen!  Just listen to Cramer and watch Honey Boo Boo and don't worry about meaningless facts like the horrible jobs picture we have here.  Everything will be fine, the FED and our Government said so.
Mar 26, 2013 4:05PM
Job numbers are improving??? Bulsh**!!!  Maybe the massaged data says that, but I can tell you it is NOT improving!!!!
Mar 26, 2013 4:32PM

hehe 'uneven'??????????  who the hell is the fed kidding? themselves? the idiot voter? the mindless obamazombies? hmmmm all of the above!


the nationwide unemployment figures in a country like this should be no more than 2% at most, there should more jobs than there are human beings to fill them ten times over, so where the hell are they? and I'm talkin' PERMANENT JOBS, not temp ones and not car wash help either, sustainable high paying jobs that can support a mortgage!!


where have 8million jobs gone that will never come back since that pig obama took office go to exactly? millions of unemployed are no longer counted as such, so what the hell is the truth? the truth is we're fukkkkkkkkkkked, the unfortunate truth

Mar 26, 2013 4:18PM
I live in Las Vegas and can tell you first hand they're playing the "juggle the numbers" game. I've been unemployed 5+ years and can't find ANYTHING in my field. Can't even get a fast food job because they're requiring employees to be bilingual now.  WTF? Bilingual for a minimum wage job at McD's, Subway, KFC, etc..???  That's what this world has come to under Harry Reid, Pelosi, and Odumbo.
Mar 26, 2013 4:31PM

Jobs?  Yea, maybe the people the regime hired to report BS jobs data and the 200 homes they bought.


Mar 26, 2013 5:11PM
What jobs recovery?  There are over 8 million less people employed than when that imbecile Obama started.  The rate on 01/20/2009 was 7.2% and Obama said that it would never exceed 8% if we simply reward his campaign contributors with 860 billion in stimulus spending.   

We now have an additional 6.3 trillion in debt.  Obama will boost our debt more than all the other Presidents combined before he leaves office.  

Obama is a lazy, arrogant, CORRUPT imbecile.  His war on the middle class must end.  Before everyone in the USA is on food stamps and poor.  He is a true Marxist....
Mar 26, 2013 4:54PM
Most agree the real unemployment number is much higher than the data provided by the administration and touted by the media, we have a long way to go before the "recovery" becomes real to the people who have been out of work for years. This has been a less than stellar "recovery" compared to others I wonder how the story would be reported if the media was not as sympathetic to the people in charge?
Mar 26, 2013 4:34PM
Wow thumb downs on my earlier post. If you're gonna vote it that way, try writing a reply as to why.
Mar 26, 2013 4:51PM
I'm a little surprised by all the people here blaming the current (or even the previous) administration for the jobs situation. This $h!tstorm has been brewing for decades, with the amount of automation that's showed up everywhere from offices to factories to restaurants. I work in an office with three other people and higher revenues than ever in a 65-year history, but 20 years ago it took more than a dozen people to get less done.

Our problems are fundamental and entrenched in our society; blaming any given set of individuals short of our entire country is naive.
Mar 26, 2013 3:40PM
If Victoria Secrets market is share soo bad to try to induce young women I am appalled. Yes, I do buy for my wife as it makes her feel sexy and looks good too, but let the kids grow and make their own decisions later on. Come out with some products for children in the 8-15 year range that are stylish but too provocative. I can say I have not looked at their site but will.
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