The Unemployment Rate In America’s 389 Cities Two Months Before The Election

The unemployment rate in July was 10.5%, an improvement from each of the two prior months.  However, the figure is still above the worst single month of The Great Recession–October 2009. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, among America’s 389 metro areas, the jobless rate ranged from 2.7% to 26.8%. The figure in each of these cities was higher than in the same month one ago. Cities at the high end of this range have jobless rates at the Great Depression level.

Four cities had jobless rates which were over twice as much as the national average. El Centro, California, had the highest unemployment rate in July at 26.8%. In Yuma, Arizona, the figure was 24.8%. In Atlantic City-Hammonton, New Jersey, it was 24.0%, and in Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, Hawaii, it was 21.6%.

Each of these four has an unfortunate mix of industries and companies as its major employers. Agriculture accounts for almost 50% of the jobs in El Centro, and some of those are seasonal. Construction jobs, a major part of the labor force, did not come back entirely after the Great Recession. The poverty rate is extremely high. Some experts believe a part of the population may have trouble finding jobs because English is not their first language. El Centro was the city with the highest employment in the Great Recession as well. The figure ran above 20% through much of 2009.

Yuma also was among the hardest-hit cities as jobs disappeared during the Great Recession. It did not recover with the improved job market between 2010 and 2019. A large seasonal agriculture workforce is blamed for much of the high jobless number. The largest individual employers, which include the Marine Corps Air Station and the local government and schools, are relatively small.

Atlantic City-Hammonton was the gambling capital of the eastern United States. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 led to the opening of a number of large casinos in the Northeast. Atlantic City never fully recovered from the damage of Hurricane Sandy in late October 2012.

Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina’s workforce has a large number of jobs supported by tourism. Those have almost entirely disappeared.

At the other end of the spectrum, out of the 389 cities that the BLS measures, only seven had unemployment rates below 5% in July.

A 5% jobless rate is considered full employment by most economists. This is based on the theory that there are always a small number of people between jobs or entering or exiting the national workforce. The following cities were below this level in July:

Logan, Utah-Idaho, at 2.7%
Idaho Falls, Idaho, at 3.1%
Provo-Orem, Utah, at 3.6%
Ogden-Clearfield, Utah, at 4.0%
Twin Falls, Idaho, at 4.4%
Pocatello, Idaho, at 4.5%
Bismarck, North Dakota, at 4.9%

Aside from Bismarck, these metro areas are clearly clustered in two states in which unemployment is also low. Utah’s unemployment rate in July was 4.6%. Idaho’s was 4.7%.

The other thing they have in common is that they are extremely small compared to most of the others on the list. That means the number of people unemployed in each is counted in the thousands. In Pocatello, the figure is less than 2,000.

Utah and Idaho have several advantages over most states in terms of jobs. In Utah, five of the 10 top employers are hospitals or medical systems. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is also a major employer, and the tech industry is another, led by Cisco Systems.

Idaho’s largest employers are in the tech industry, universities, health care centers, and the military. The largest employer in the state is Micron Technology. Boise State University is next, followed by the Mountain Home Air Force Base. The University of Idaho and the Idaho Military Department are high on the list.

The unemployment rate is expected to drop when figures are issued for August and September. October’s figures will not be released until the first week of November, within days of the election. It is too early to say if the national unemployment rate will rise again. If this happens, it means that the econmomy has begun another sharp decent. What is certain is that the jobs situation will not change enough to keep scores of American cities from double digit unemployment between now and the end of the year.

State and AreaCivilian Labor Force% Unemployed
Alabama2,237,0018.2
Anniston44,7949.5
Auburn73,6627.2
Birmingham548,0207.8
Daphne98,9357.4
Decatur70,0976.4
Dothan63,7247.1
Florence64,5387.8
Gadsden41,19510.0
Huntsville222,8116.3
Mobile190,69312.2
Montgomery173,26610.0
Tuscaloosa117,8479.0
Alaska351,83810.8
Anchorage192,31611.0
Fairbanks45,1588.9
Arizona3,563,64510.9
Flagstaff70,05213.6
Lake Havasu City88,01112.5
Phoenix2,519,88910.3
Prescott109,0299.6
Sierra Vista51,7949.3
Tucson500,54310.5
Yuma98,17424.8
Arkansas1,322,7687.5
Fayetteville274,1235.7
Fort Smith115,5717.2
Hot Springs41,5759.6
Jonesboro65,6926.7
Little Rock345,9418.3
Pine Bluff33,6909.3
California18,885,23513.7
Bakersfield370,02216.5
Chico93,22311.1
El Centro71,49926.8
Fresno447,39213.5
Hanford56,51313.1
Los Angeles6,518,55916.8
Madera60,80813.0
Merced112,34414.5
Modesto236,00013.6
Napa72,68110.4
Oxnard412,17011.3
Redding71,68810.5
Riverside2,056,55113.4
Sacramento1,086,30011.5
Salinas198,39312.1
San Diego1,576,73912.3
San Francisco2,518,80011.1
San Jose1,067,7679.4
San Luis Obispo131,2379.9
Santa Cruz130,01511.2
Santa Maria215,16710.0
Santa Rosa252,9829.8
Stockton322,38214.8
Vallejo203,20912.4
Visalia191,14316.2
Yuba City70,71913.5
Colorado3,102,0297.4
Boulder189,4586.6
Colorado Springs355,8016.9
Denver1,676,1467.8
Fort Collins198,7616.2
Grand Junction76,3536.9
Greeley165,6447.2
Pueblo74,7597.9
Connecticut1,929,93410.3
Bridgeport465,71210.6
Danbury108,1109.0
Hartford641,60310.1
New Haven333,9699.7
Norwich143,40012.4
Waterbury112,78211.9
Delaware510,90510.6
Dover86,41211.5
Salisbury202,6718.6
District of Columbia399,0668.9
Washington3,453,6347.9
Florida10,032,70311.5
Cape Coral333,43610.7
Crestview123,1857.0
Deltona294,05410.5
Gainesville136,1727.5
Homosassa Springs45,13111.2
Jacksonville765,5578.8
Lakeland304,43013.2
Miami3,038,73913.2
Naples170,34810.4
North Port351,2749.4
Ocala137,1479.3
Orlando1,353,07215.3
Palm Bay281,5419.2
Panama City86,7417.7
Pensacola221,9108.5
Port St. Lucie213,04010.2
Punta Gorda70,31210.0
Sebastian63,13510.4
Sebring35,12410.3
Tallahassee181,5848.4
Tampa1,520,13110.1
The Villages31,64410.0
Georgia5,018,4678.0
Albany65,0198.7
Athens95,1706.6
Atlanta3,053,7988.5
Augusta262,8677.3
Brunswick47,1417.9
Columbus119,3738.5
Dalton56,7247.9
Gainesville98,7735.6
Hinesville33,9906.5
Macon99,7138.1
Rome44,1387.1
Savannah184,2188.4
Valdosta62,3027.2
Warner Robins81,4296.3
Hawaii638,06313.1
Kahului82,48621.3
Urban Honolulu432,74111.1
Idaho912,8224.7
Boise City392,1375.1
Coeur d’Alene80,7086.0
Idaho Falls77,9923.1
Lewiston30,3695.3
Pocatello40,8584.5
Twin Falls54,9504.4
Illinois6,314,16411.3
Bloomington89,4338.0
Carbondale58,0949.2
Champaign117,2397.9
Chicago4,797,28412.0
Danville32,3069.9
Davenport186,9319.1
Decatur46,68812.0
Kankakee55,0449.5
Peoria164,88110.6
Rockford165,01513.8
Springfield105,4139.1
Indiana3,355,8887.9
Bloomington75,5556.8
Columbus44,2296.8
Elkhart107,7088.1
Evansville165,0576.9
Fort Wayne217,2138.2
Indianapolis1,089,0327.7
Kokomo37,2168.8
Lafayette106,8467.1
Michigan City48,73710.5
Muncie52,3388.2
South Bend155,02910.1
Terre Haute73,7138.1
Iowa1,644,3856.5
Ames54,0495.0
Cedar Rapids141,9177.6
Des Moines349,7126.9
Dubuque53,5257.0
Iowa City97,8646.1
Sioux City92,1405.8
Waterloo86,4866.9
Kansas1,514,2777.7
Lawrence62,7368.2
Manhattan42,8717.4
Topeka121,1486.9
Wichita326,35310.9
Kentucky1,879,1536.2
Bowling Green71,6966.2
Elizabethtown61,7566.2
Lexington250,6585.5
Louisville629,9006.4
Owensboro52,5075.4
Louisiana2,037,9289.9
Alexandria61,6907.4
Baton Rouge407,0819.1
Hammond54,14512.1
Houma86,4248.5
Lafayette211,3109.1
Lake Charles102,5369.8
Monroe80,9628.3
New Orleans574,17111.9
Shreveport183,7109.4
Maine716,0389.4
Bangor71,1038.7
Lewiston57,69310
Portland214,2899.8
Maryland3,281,7917.7
Baltimore1,523,4297.5
California55,6296.0
Cumberland42,3748.2
Hagerstown129,7037.5
Massachusetts3,722,93316.2
Barnstable Town129,19515.4
Boston2,748,03215.5
Leominster80,65817.8
New Bedford85,88018.8
Pittsfield42,38317.0
Springfield359,81916.4
Worcester358,37714.9
Michigan4,872,0759.5
Ann Arbor203,2787.9
Battle Creek62,04410.9
Bay City49,7839.5
Detroit2,041,89210.1
Flint186,17611.8
Grand Rapids592,0888.4
Jackson75,27910.1
Kalamazoo171,2918.7
Lansing243,5568.4
Midland40,1977.9
Monroe73,7819.2
Muskegon80,26512.8
Niles76,4509.9
Saginaw86,92810.6
Minnesota3,122,3267.4
Duluth139,6018.7
Mankato62,8866.2
Minneapolis2,029,2188.2
Rochester126,0856.6
St. Cloud116,1256.1
Mississippi1,250,60111.5
Gulfport164,55112.1
Hattiesburg66,76810.3
Jackson260,95010.7
Missouri3,104,8137.2
Cape Girardeau44,0886.5
Columbia97,0095.1
Jefferson City75,4555.6
Joplin84,0056.6
Kansas City1,158,3097.6
St. Joseph63,6675.5
St. Louis1,477,3548.2
Springfield237,8296.3
Montana544,5826.0
Billings89,5725.9
Great Falls39,0756.1
Missoula66,8026.3
Nebraska1,062,0275.0
Grand Island45,4405.4
Lincoln197,2145.0
Omaha511,7495.9
Nevada1,492,87414.2
Carson City25,3008.0
Las Vegas1,102,99416.4
Reno244,7748.1
New Hampshire748,0517.9
Dover82,3488.2
Manchester119,5548.0
Portsmouth75,6687.7
New Jersey4,626,98814.0
Atlantic City128,38124.0
Ocean City47,69615.0
Trenton207,22610.9
Vineland66,75614.6
New Mexico915,50313.3
Albuquerque416,07913.1
Farmington47,73716.0
Las Cruces90,71813.0
Santa Fe70,15313.5
New York9,688,73016.0
Albany465,85111.5
Binghamton111,40212.5
Buffalo573,94714.1
Elmira38,34412.5
Glens Falls60,75011.1
Ithaca51,0459.9
Kingston93,70612.4
New York10,094,06416.4
Rochester529,30612.9
Syracuse316,64513.0
Utica133,83512.2
Watertown44,45712.3
North Carolina4,965,4328.9
Asheville228,7969.4
Burlington81,4148.8
Charlotte1,361,0849.3
Durham294,9467.9
Fayetteville143,06811.6
Goldsboro48,2168.2
Greensboro361,56710.3
Greenville85,7148.8
Hickory166,9849.0
Jacksonville64,1838.3
New Bern50,6217.5
Raleigh707,5158.0
Rocky Mount63,80711.3
Wilmington149,6688.3
Winston-Salem319,1738.9
North Dakota409,5336.4
Bismarck70,0374.9
Fargo141,7385.1
Grand Forks53,8885.8
Ohio5,727,5179.1
Akron347,6159.1
Canton-Massillon194,7038.8
Cincinnati1,111,4587.8
Cleveland1,021,87411.7
Columbus1,081,4358.2
Dayton392,6888.7
Lima47,4368.7
Mansfield52,0269.3
Springfield63,0418.4
Toledo301,6849.6
Weirton50,22610.7
Youngstown229,18311.8
Oklahoma1,812,3367.1
Enid25,3506.6
Lawton50,2267.3
Oklahoma City678,6297.1
Tulsa472,1447.6
Oregon2,082,25310.6
Albany57,91610.5
Bend94,47010.6
Corvallis44,7968.4
Eugene182,42010.6
Grants Pass34,32110.7
Medford102,08710.9
Portland1,325,16511.1
Salem197,0099.4
Pennsylvania6,555,81214.1
Allentown450,59513.9
Altoona60,25413.2
Bloomsburg43,34811.1
Chambersburg78,41012.2
East Stroudsburg82,31817.3
Erie128,36615.1
Gettysburg56,16710.3
Harrisburg309,82111.8
Johnstown57,41814.6
Lancaster298,44411.2
Lebanon73,54512.0
Philadelphia3,187,64414.1
Pittsburgh1,220,75714.5
Reading229,10913.4
Scranton268,98515.7
State College75,4379.6
Williamsport53,37813.4
York238,29212.0
Rhode Island564,17811.4
Providence698,98012.6
South Carolina2,484,7008.8
Charleston411,3899.2
Columbia418,3437.7
Florence104,2378.4
Greenville457,5627.9
Hilton Head Island97,6767.0
Myrtle Beach209,02310.6
Spartanburg170,5939.9
Sumter46,2459.7
South Dakota474,1546.0
Rapid City76,3346.8
Sioux Falls160,0335.5
Tennessee3,173,3949.9
Chattanooga273,0797.9
Clarksville109,7419.2
Cleveland58,0138.6
Jackson61,4749.5
Johnson City85,1438.5
Kingsport130,4878.8
Knoxville409,2837.9
Memphis628,58413.0
Morristown50,9548.9
Nashville1,027,9429.8
Texas13,846,0288.2
Abilene77,1595.9
Amarillo125,3565.1
Austin1,225,0856.7
Beaumont168,49011.9
Brownsville164,66411.0
College Station132,6115.8
Corpus Christi201,05310.0
Dallas3,946,6577.5
El Paso358,3768.7
Houston3,386,1749.4
Killeen174,4707.1
Laredo115,6089.1
Longview95,0318.5
Lubbock159,0346.4
McAllen350,95612.5
Midland102,6589.4
Odessa85,54912.6
San Angelo52,0107.3
San Antonio1,194,9897.9
Sherman63,6715.9
Texarkana64,0877.6
Tyler106,1477.2
Victoria44,8809.4
Waco126,3246.5
Wichita Falls63,0097.1
Utah1,632,5824.6
Logan69,3762.7
Ogden344,5584.0
Provo315,4533.6
St. George77,9625.2
Salt Lake City677,3515.3
Vermont343,7648.2
Burlington124,2187.6
Virginia4,374,8028.0
Blacksburg85,0306.9
Charlottesville119,9847.6
Harrisonburg64,2406.7
Lynchburg121,1057.5
Richmond686,2168.9
Roanoke155,0667.7
Staunton63,2366.3
Virginia Beach872,9549.3
Winchester70,9776.2
Washington3,994,93410.2
Bellingham121,22111.8
Bremerton135,7099.5
Kennewick157,33710.9
Longview50,88211.5
Mount Vernon65,88712.2
Olympia149,86310.4
Seattle2,197,6389.3
Spokane285,60711.4
Walla Walla32,0578.5
Wenatchee67,31610
Yakima138,41612.6
West Virginia767,1279.7
Beckley46,95610.2
Charleston92,08210.7
Huntington144,2858.9
Morgantown68,1888.6
Parkersburg39,2429.8
Wheeling60,95310.4
Wisconsin3,066,5297.0
Appleton127,0665.9
Eau Claire88,5806.7
Fond du Lac57,4405.8
Green Bay171,6066.6
Janesville84,2658.2
La Crosse73,7685.9
Madison370,5245.9
Milwaukee817,7058.4
Oshkosh90,5896.0
Racine100,5127.7
Sheboygan61,7046.2
Wausau72,3475.5
Wyoming299,7876.8
Casper40,06510.2
Cheyenne49,0705.8
Puerto Rico1,042,1387.3
Aguadilla80,2838.0
Arecibo51,8007.2
Guayama18,3877.2
Mayaguez25,5077.1
Ponce87,3277.4
San German32,2947.5
San Juan708,9407.1

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