The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced good news on the jobs front in major cities as measured in November:
Unemployment rates were lower in November than a year earlier in 322 of the 372 metropolitan areas, higher in 36 areas, and unchanged in 14 areas.
While those numbers where extremely good news for many cities, more than a few areas remain in deep recession, based on the portion of their populations that are unemployed. The federal and state governments have not found any solutions to help these cities, and so far there is nothing to show that situation will change.
Twenty nine metro areas continue to have jobless rates above 10%. In other cities, the figure tops 15%. The most troubled areas are often clustered, and these clusters have a great deal in common. That means there should be some way to improve their desperate problems.
The region that continues to be most mired in high unemployment is interior California, well in from cities like San Francisco, San Jose and Los Angeles. Unemployment is 8.3% in San Diego, but a few miles inland, in El Centro, the figure is 26.6%. In San Francisco, unemployment was 7.5% in November. Not far away in Modesto, the number is 14.5%. In nearby cities, including Stockton and Merced, the figures are not any better. Much of the economic activity in these inland cities comes from agriculture. Hispanics and Latinos make up nearly 36% of the population in Modesto, a figure that is likely to grow. This group lacks the opportunity to use mobility to improve job prospects. The cost to move is relatively high, and there are no guarantees of jobs elsewhere.
Another pocket of high unemployment is 1,500 miles east in Illinois. The jobless rates in Decatur, Kankakee and Rockford were each above 10% in November. In Rockford, almost 21% of the population is African American, and nearly another 16% is Hispanics and Latinos. Manufacturing was the largest industry in these three cities. Many of the factories that employed thousands are gone. Once again, those populations are unlikely to be mobile. With their current skills, they have nowhere to go.
Unemployment among these cities, where 10% to over 25% of the people are out of work, is not likely to get any better, although the causes are easy to understand.