The economy has begun its slow recovery from the Great Recession, and with it, the labor market is showing signs of improving as well. The unemployment rate fell from 9.5% in June 2009 to 8.2% in June 2012. Like the country as a whole, most major metropolitan areas have begun to recover.
Others, however, actually have taken a turn for the worse. Ten metro areas from all over the country had at least a 5% decrease in the number of employed people since the summer of 2009, when national unemployment was close to its worst point. 24/7 Wall St. looked at the 10 metropolitan areas with the largest decline in employment between June 2009, near the peak of the recession, and June 2012.
Of the 10 metro areas on our list, five are in California or the southwest (Arizona, Utah or Nevada) — parts of the country that were hit particularly hard by the subprime mortgage crisis. These states have had the highest unemployment rates in the country since the recession began, and they continue to flounder today. In fact, for Nevada and California, things have gotten even worse relative to the rest of the country. Unemployment in Nevada has increased from 11.8% in June 2009 to 11.9% in June 2012, going from third worst in the country to the worst.
However, among the metropolitan areas with the biggest declines in the number of employed people, the unemployment rate has only increased substantially in a handful of these regions. In some cases, it actually declined. In St. George, Utah, for example, the unemployment rate has fallen from 9.9% in June 2009 to 7.6% in June 2012. The reason has to do with the number of people looking for work. In St. George, Prescott, Ariz., and Michigan City, Ind., the labor force — comprised of the number of people employed and those looking for employment — has fallen by more than 5%, as people have either given up their job search or have left the area.
The two metro regions with the largest decrease in employed residents — Brunswick and Dalton — are located in Georgia. While the two areas are nearly as far apart as areas can be and remain in the same state, both are a product of a worsening trend in the Peach State. In June 2009, unemployment in Georgia was 10.5%, the 14th highest rate in the country. As of June of this year, the rate has only slightly decreased to 9.6%, making it the eighth worst in the country.
In some of the regions on our list, many of the jobs were lost in the past 12 months alone. Dalton, Ga., lost roughly 4,400 jobs over the past three years, but more than 2,800 of those jobs were lost between June 2011 and June 2012. In other regions very few jobs were lost last year. Prescott, Ariz., lost 5,140 jobs in the past three years, but just 137 of those were lost in the past recorded 12 months.
To find the 10 metropolitan areas with the highest percentage decrease in the number of employed people, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data for 374 metropolitan areas from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We considered the number and percentage change in the total employed and unemployed, and the labor force, which is the combination of those two groups. We also looked at the changes in the past 12 months, between June 2011 and June 2012, to determine if these changes were recent. The BLS also provided data about the types of jobs people are employed in as of June 2012. We often compared those figures to the state as a whole.
These are the 10 cities losing the most jobs.