The jobs situation in America has improved significantly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION for November showed that the country added 210,000 jobs last month. The unemployment rate dropped to 4.2%.
Last April, the jobless number soared to 14.2% as the virus spread. Just two months earlier, in February, the unemployment rate was 3.5%, the lowest level in five decades.
The BLS releases unemployment data by both state and city as well. The most recent for metros was the METROPOLITAN AREA EMPLOYMENT AND UNEMPLOYMENT — OCTOBER 2021. The government researchers wrote that “Unemployment rates were lower in October than a year earlier in 386 of the 389 metropolitan areas, higher in 1 area, and unchanged in 2 areas, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. A total of 110 areas had jobless rates of less than 3.0 percent and 2 areas had rates of at least 10.0 percent.”
In two cities, the unemployment rate was remarkably low, and each had the equivalent of full employment. Logan, UT-ID had a jobless rate of 1.1%. Provo-Orem, UT’s was 1.2%.
At the far end of the spectrum, the jobless rate in El Centro, CA was 17.7%. It has had a rate much higher than the national figure for years. El Centro is the 240th largest metro with a population of 179,702 according to the 2020 Census. That rose 2.96% from 2010.
In October, El Centro’s civilian labor force was 68,370. Of those 12,084 were unemployed.
El Centro is at the center of the huge agricultural region which is inland from California’s largest coastal cities, in particular Los Angeles and San Diego. Work in the region is often seasonal, and the drought that has crippled much of California has not spared that area . A number of the Mexican workers who collect job benefits in El Centro actually live in Mexicali, just across the border from Mexico.
The jobs problem in El Centro is probably permanent. It is hard to image that either the composition of jobs or of workers will change much, if at all.