America has enjoyed its lowest unemployment in five decades as the national figure has fallen to 3.3% in recent months. According to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in two cities, it was only a fraction of that. The lowest rates in the nation were in Ames, IA, and Burlington-South Burlington, VT, at 1.3% each in October, the most recent month for which information is available.
Out of the 389 metro areas in America, the unemployment rates were lower in October in 240 metro areas compared to October last year. They were higher in 121 areas, and unchanged in 28 areas. The metro with the highest unemployment was El Centro, CA at 21.2%.
Ames and Burlington-South Burlington are among the smaller metros in America. The Vermont metro ranks 202 in population. Ames ranks 359th. The Ames labor force is only 63,541. Of those, only 853 people were unemployed in Octobers. In Burlington-South Burlington, the labor force is 126,489. Of those only 1,685 had no jobs in the same month.
Despite the fact that the two cities are over 1,200 miles apart, their populations are relatively similar. Eighty percent of the population is White in Ames. Ninety eight percent of the population have at least a high school eduction. In Burlington-South Burlington, the White population is 83% of the total. Ninety one percent of the population has at least a high school eduction.
Each of the two cities have a substantial advantage over most metros. They have a one or two large employer that support their workforces. In Ames, it is Iowa State which employees about 15,000 people. In Burlington, University of VT Medical Center has 6.400 workers. It also has a large university. The University of Vermont employees 3,000 people. Because of their stable employment situations, neither city is likely to see much of a rise in joblessness.
Is there anything to be learned by other cities from the situations in Ames and Burlington-South Burlington? Probably the answer is “no”. Each has been fortunate to enjoy employment circumstances which do not exist in most other cities.