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How Unemployment Varies Across the Country

Unemployment rates were lower in January than a year earlier in 199 of the 389…

  • March 28, 2019

Unemployment rates were lower in January than a year earlier in 199 of the 389 metropolitan areas, higher in 150 areas, and unchanged in 40 areas, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

Twenty-two areas had jobless rates of less than 3.0 percent and six areas had rates of at least 10.0 percent.

Nonfarm payroll employment increased over the year in 53 metropolitan areas and was essentially unchanged in 336 areas.

The national unemployment rate in January was 4.4 percent, not seasonally adjusted, little changed from a year earlier.

Ames, Iowa Wins Again

In January, Ames, Iowa, had the lowest unemployment rate, 1.9 percent. El Centro, CA, had the highest unemployment rate, 18.5 percent.

A total of 198 areas had January jobless rates below the U.S. rate of 4.4 percent, 176 areas had rates above it, and 15 areas had rates equal to that of the nation.

Ocean City, NJ, had the largest over-the-year unemployment rate decrease in January (-1.7 percentage points). An additional 17 areas had rate declines of at least 1.0 percentage point. The largest over-the-year rate increase occurred in Panama City, FL (+1.6 percentage points).

Of the 51 metropolitan areas with a 2010 Census population of 1 million or more, Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN, had the lowest unemployment rate in January, 2.7 percent.

Cleveland-Elyria, OH, had the highest jobless rate among the large areas, 5.2 percent.

Twenty-eight large areas had over-the-year unemployment rate decreases, 16 had increases, and 7 had no change.

The largest rate decrease occurred in Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls (-1.0 percentage point). The largest over-the-year rate increase was in Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO (+1.0 percentage point).