Cities Where People Can’t Find Work

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10. Stockton, Calif.
> Unemployment: 14.1%
> 12-month unemployment change: -1.7 percentage points
> Pct. below poverty line: 18.1%

Although Stockton’s unemployment rate of 14.1% in November was 1.7 percentage points lower than it was a year before, it was still among the highest in the U.S. The city’s economy continues to struggle and it still had yet to recover many of the jobs lost during the recession.  In June 2012, unable to eliminate a $26 million budget deficit, Stockton become the largest city in U.S. history to file for bankruptcy. In recent years, Stockton had cut much of its police force in an attempt to balance its budgets even though it had the nation’s third-highest violent crime rate of 821 such crimes per 100,000 residents in 2011.

Also Read: America’s Most Misleading Product Claims

9. Fresno, Calif. 
> Unemployment: 14.4%
> 12-month unemployment change: -1.4 percentage points
> Pct. below poverty line: 25.8%

Fresno’s unemployment rate of 14.4% in November 2012 may be getting worse. California’s Employment Development Department said last week that Fresno County’s unemployment rate rose to 14.9% in December. The heavy job losses took place primarily in the agricultural packing houses sector, a seasonal trend that affects Fresno annually. However, many jobs were lost also in the government and construction sectors. The unemployment rate in the Fresno area is down significantly from the 15.8% back in November of 2011. Although some of the job growth has occurred in low-paying fields such as retail, the area has also seen growth in the higher-paying professional and business services category of jobs.

8. Visalia-Porterville, Calif.
> Unemployment: 14.5% (tied-5th lowest)
> 12-month unemployment change: -0.9 percentage points
> Pct. below poverty line: 25.7%

Visalia-Porterville, also located in the San Joaquin Valley, is one of four metropolitan areas to have an unemployment rate of 14.5%, one the highest rates in the country. The severe unemployment situation has led to depressed income for the area. The median household income of $41,167 in 2011 was more than $9,000 below the national median. Nearly 26% of the metro’s population lived below the poverty line, about 10 percentage points higher than the national poverty rate. Nearly 19% of those employed work in the agriculture sector, more than any other metro area in the U.S., which means rapid and extreme changes in seasonal employment.

7. Ocean City, N.J.  
> Unemployment: 14.5% (tied-5th lowest)
> 12-month unemployment change: 0.5 percentage points
> Pct. below poverty line: 11.4%

Ocean City, a popular resort community on the Jersey Shore, became inaccessible after Superstorm Sandy, leading to a temporary — and in some cases, permanent — shutdown of the businesses located in the area. This led to a temporary spike in unemployment in the region, which was high enough already. The unemployment rate between November 2011 and November 2012 grew a half a percentage point to 14.5%, the fifth-largest unemployment growth among all metro areas. Fortunately, Ocean City officials said that most of the businesses were up and running again by December, with many actually reporting stronger sales than usual.

6. Modesto, Calif.
> Unemployment: 14.5% (tied-5th lowest)
> 12-month unemployment change: -1.1 percentage points
> Pct. below poverty line: 23.8%

At 14.5%, Modesto’s unemployment rate in November 2012 was actually 1.1 percentage lower than in November of 2011. Despite this decline, Modesto has yet to recover most of the jobs lost during the recession. One major problem is that seasonal increases in manufacturing employment have become less pronounced in recent years than they were in the past. In addition to the lack of job growth, Modesto had one of the highest poverty rates of any metropolitan area in 2011, at 23.8%. An AP report highlights the lack of diversity in the economy of California’s Central Valley, in which Modesto is located. The report notes there are not enough available jobs outside of agriculture, and that many residents lack the skills that are attractive to companies.