Economy

The Unemployment Rate In America's 389 Cities Two Months Before The Election

The unemployment rate in July was 10.5%, an improvement from each of the two prior months.  However, the figure is still above the worst single month of The Great Recession–October 2009. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, among America’s 389 metro areas, the jobless rate ranged from 2.7% to 26.8%. The figure in each of these cities was higher than in the same month one ago. Cities at the high end of this range have jobless rates at the Great Depression level.

Four cities had jobless rates which were over twice as much as the national average. El Centro, California, had the highest unemployment rate in July at 26.8%. In Yuma, Arizona, the figure was 24.8%. In Atlantic City-Hammonton, New Jersey, it was 24.0%, and in Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, Hawaii, it was 21.6%.

Each of these four has an unfortunate mix of industries and companies as its major employers. Agriculture accounts for almost 50% of the jobs in El Centro, and some of those are seasonal. Construction jobs, a major part of the labor force, did not come back entirely after the Great Recession. The poverty rate is extremely high. Some experts believe a part of the population may have trouble finding jobs because English is not their first language. El Centro was the city with the highest employment in the Great Recession as well. The figure ran above 20% through much of 2009.

Yuma also was among the hardest-hit cities as jobs disappeared during the Great Recession. It did not recover with the improved job market between 2010 and 2019. A large seasonal agriculture workforce is blamed for much of the high jobless number. The largest individual employers, which include the Marine Corps Air Station and the local government and schools, are relatively small.

Atlantic City-Hammonton was the gambling capital of the eastern United States. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 led to the opening of a number of large casinos in the Northeast. Atlantic City never fully recovered from the damage of Hurricane Sandy in late October 2012.

Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina’s workforce has a large number of jobs supported by tourism. Those have almost entirely disappeared.

At the other end of the spectrum, out of the 389 cities that the BLS measures, only seven had unemployment rates below 5% in July.

A 5% jobless rate is considered full employment by most economists. This is based on the theory that there are always a small number of people between jobs or entering or exiting the national workforce. The following cities were below this level in July:

Logan, Utah-Idaho, at 2.7%
Idaho Falls, Idaho, at 3.1%
Provo-Orem, Utah, at 3.6%
Ogden-Clearfield, Utah, at 4.0%
Twin Falls, Idaho, at 4.4%
Pocatello, Idaho, at 4.5%
Bismarck, North Dakota, at 4.9%

Aside from Bismarck, these metro areas are clearly clustered in two states in which unemployment is also low. Utah’s unemployment rate in July was 4.6%. Idaho’s was 4.7%.

The other thing they have in common is that they are extremely small compared to most of the others on the list. That means the number of people unemployed in each is counted in the thousands. In Pocatello, the figure is less than 2,000.

Utah and Idaho have several advantages over most states in terms of jobs. In Utah, five of the 10 top employers are hospitals or medical systems. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is also a major employer, and the tech industry is another, led by Cisco Systems.

Idaho’s largest employers are in the tech industry, universities, health care centers, and the military. The largest employer in the state is Micron Technology. Boise State University is next, followed by the Mountain Home Air Force Base. The University of Idaho and the Idaho Military Department are high on the list.

The unemployment rate is expected to drop when figures are issued for August and September. October’s figures will not be released until the first week of November, within days of the election. It is too early to say if the national unemployment rate will rise again. If this happens, it means that the econmomy has begun another sharp decent. What is certain is that the jobs situation will not change enough to keep scores of American cities from double digit unemployment between now and the end of the year.

State and Area Civilian Labor Force % Unemployed
Alabama 2,237,001 8.2
Anniston 44,794 9.5
Auburn 73,662 7.2
Birmingham 548,020 7.8
Daphne 98,935 7.4
Decatur 70,097 6.4
Dothan 63,724 7.1
Florence 64,538 7.8
Gadsden 41,195 10.0
Huntsville 222,811 6.3
Mobile 190,693 12.2
Montgomery 173,266 10.0
Tuscaloosa 117,847 9.0
Alaska 351,838 10.8
Anchorage 192,316 11.0
Fairbanks 45,158 8.9
Arizona 3,563,645 10.9
Flagstaff 70,052 13.6
Lake Havasu City 88,011 12.5
Phoenix 2,519,889 10.3
Prescott 109,029 9.6
Sierra Vista 51,794 9.3
Tucson 500,543 10.5
Yuma 98,174 24.8
Arkansas 1,322,768 7.5
Fayetteville 274,123 5.7
Fort Smith 115,571 7.2
Hot Springs 41,575 9.6
Jonesboro 65,692 6.7
Little Rock 345,941 8.3
Pine Bluff 33,690 9.3
California 18,885,235 13.7
Bakersfield 370,022 16.5
Chico 93,223 11.1
El Centro 71,499 26.8
Fresno 447,392 13.5
Hanford 56,513 13.1
Los Angeles 6,518,559 16.8
Madera 60,808 13.0
Merced 112,344 14.5
Modesto 236,000 13.6
Napa 72,681 10.4
Oxnard 412,170 11.3
Redding 71,688 10.5
Riverside 2,056,551 13.4
Sacramento 1,086,300 11.5
Salinas 198,393 12.1
San Diego 1,576,739 12.3
San Francisco 2,518,800 11.1
San Jose 1,067,767 9.4
San Luis Obispo 131,237 9.9
Santa Cruz 130,015 11.2
Santa Maria 215,167 10.0
Santa Rosa 252,982 9.8
Stockton 322,382 14.8
Vallejo 203,209 12.4
Visalia 191,143 16.2
Yuba City 70,719 13.5
Colorado 3,102,029 7.4
Boulder 189,458 6.6
Colorado Springs 355,801 6.9
Denver 1,676,146 7.8
Fort Collins 198,761 6.2
Grand Junction 76,353 6.9
Greeley 165,644 7.2
Pueblo 74,759 7.9
Connecticut 1,929,934 10.3
Bridgeport 465,712 10.6
Danbury 108,110 9.0
Hartford 641,603 10.1
New Haven 333,969 9.7
Norwich 143,400 12.4
Waterbury 112,782 11.9
Delaware 510,905 10.6
Dover 86,412 11.5
Salisbury 202,671 8.6
District of Columbia 399,066 8.9
Washington 3,453,634 7.9
Florida 10,032,703 11.5
Cape Coral 333,436 10.7
Crestview 123,185 7.0
Deltona 294,054 10.5
Gainesville 136,172 7.5
Homosassa Springs 45,131 11.2
Jacksonville 765,557 8.8
Lakeland 304,430 13.2
Miami 3,038,739 13.2
Naples 170,348 10.4
North Port 351,274 9.4
Ocala 137,147 9.3
Orlando 1,353,072 15.3
Palm Bay 281,541 9.2
Panama City 86,741 7.7
Pensacola 221,910 8.5
Port St. Lucie 213,040 10.2
Punta Gorda 70,312 10.0
Sebastian 63,135 10.4
Sebring 35,124 10.3
Tallahassee 181,584 8.4
Tampa 1,520,131 10.1
The Villages 31,644 10.0
Georgia 5,018,467 8.0
Albany 65,019 8.7
Athens 95,170 6.6
Atlanta 3,053,798 8.5
Augusta 262,867 7.3
Brunswick 47,141 7.9
Columbus 119,373 8.5
Dalton 56,724 7.9
Gainesville 98,773 5.6
Hinesville 33,990 6.5
Macon 99,713 8.1
Rome 44,138 7.1
Savannah 184,218 8.4
Valdosta 62,302 7.2
Warner Robins 81,429 6.3
Hawaii 638,063 13.1
Kahului 82,486 21.3
Urban Honolulu 432,741 11.1
Idaho 912,822 4.7
Boise City 392,137 5.1
Coeur d’Alene 80,708 6.0
Idaho Falls 77,992 3.1
Lewiston 30,369 5.3
Pocatello 40,858 4.5
Twin Falls 54,950 4.4
Illinois 6,314,164 11.3
Bloomington 89,433 8.0
Carbondale 58,094 9.2
Champaign 117,239 7.9
Chicago 4,797,284 12.0
Danville 32,306 9.9
Davenport 186,931 9.1
Decatur 46,688 12.0
Kankakee 55,044 9.5
Peoria 164,881 10.6
Rockford 165,015 13.8
Springfield 105,413 9.1
Indiana 3,355,888 7.9
Bloomington 75,555 6.8
Columbus 44,229 6.8
Elkhart 107,708 8.1
Evansville 165,057 6.9
Fort Wayne 217,213 8.2
Indianapolis 1,089,032 7.7
Kokomo 37,216 8.8
Lafayette 106,846 7.1
Michigan City 48,737 10.5
Muncie 52,338 8.2
South Bend 155,029 10.1
Terre Haute 73,713 8.1
Iowa 1,644,385 6.5
Ames 54,049 5.0
Cedar Rapids 141,917 7.6
Des Moines 349,712 6.9
Dubuque 53,525 7.0
Iowa City 97,864 6.1
Sioux City 92,140 5.8
Waterloo 86,486 6.9
Kansas 1,514,277 7.7
Lawrence 62,736 8.2
Manhattan 42,871 7.4
Topeka 121,148 6.9
Wichita 326,353 10.9
Kentucky 1,879,153 6.2
Bowling Green 71,696 6.2
Elizabethtown 61,756 6.2
Lexington 250,658 5.5
Louisville 629,900 6.4
Owensboro 52,507 5.4
Louisiana 2,037,928 9.9
Alexandria 61,690 7.4
Baton Rouge 407,081 9.1
Hammond 54,145 12.1
Houma 86,424 8.5
Lafayette 211,310 9.1
Lake Charles 102,536 9.8
Monroe 80,962 8.3
New Orleans 574,171 11.9
Shreveport 183,710 9.4
Maine 716,038 9.4
Bangor 71,103 8.7
Lewiston 57,693 10
Portland 214,289 9.8
Maryland 3,281,791 7.7
Baltimore 1,523,429 7.5
California 55,629 6.0
Cumberland 42,374 8.2
Hagerstown 129,703 7.5
Massachusetts 3,722,933 16.2
Barnstable Town 129,195 15.4
Boston 2,748,032 15.5
Leominster 80,658 17.8
New Bedford 85,880 18.8
Pittsfield 42,383 17.0
Springfield 359,819 16.4
Worcester 358,377 14.9
Michigan 4,872,075 9.5
Ann Arbor 203,278 7.9
Battle Creek 62,044 10.9
Bay City 49,783 9.5
Detroit 2,041,892 10.1
Flint 186,176 11.8
Grand Rapids 592,088 8.4
Jackson 75,279 10.1
Kalamazoo 171,291 8.7
Lansing 243,556 8.4
Midland 40,197 7.9
Monroe 73,781 9.2
Muskegon 80,265 12.8
Niles 76,450 9.9
Saginaw 86,928 10.6
Minnesota 3,122,326 7.4
Duluth 139,601 8.7
Mankato 62,886 6.2
Minneapolis 2,029,218 8.2
Rochester 126,085 6.6
St. Cloud 116,125 6.1
Mississippi 1,250,601 11.5
Gulfport 164,551 12.1
Hattiesburg 66,768 10.3
Jackson 260,950 10.7
Missouri 3,104,813 7.2
Cape Girardeau 44,088 6.5
Columbia 97,009 5.1
Jefferson City 75,455 5.6
Joplin 84,005 6.6
Kansas City 1,158,309 7.6
St. Joseph 63,667 5.5
St. Louis 1,477,354 8.2
Springfield 237,829 6.3
Montana 544,582 6.0
Billings 89,572 5.9
Great Falls 39,075 6.1
Missoula 66,802 6.3
Nebraska 1,062,027 5.0
Grand Island 45,440 5.4
Lincoln 197,214 5.0
Omaha 511,749 5.9
Nevada 1,492,874 14.2
Carson City 25,300 8.0
Las Vegas 1,102,994 16.4
Reno 244,774 8.1
New Hampshire 748,051 7.9
Dover 82,348 8.2
Manchester 119,554 8.0
Portsmouth 75,668 7.7
New Jersey 4,626,988 14.0
Atlantic City 128,381 24.0
Ocean City 47,696 15.0
Trenton 207,226 10.9
Vineland 66,756 14.6
New Mexico 915,503 13.3
Albuquerque 416,079 13.1
Farmington 47,737 16.0
Las Cruces 90,718 13.0
Santa Fe 70,153 13.5
New York 9,688,730 16.0
Albany 465,851 11.5
Binghamton 111,402 12.5
Buffalo 573,947 14.1
Elmira 38,344 12.5
Glens Falls 60,750 11.1
Ithaca 51,045 9.9
Kingston 93,706 12.4
New York 10,094,064 16.4
Rochester 529,306 12.9
Syracuse 316,645 13.0
Utica 133,835 12.2
Watertown 44,457 12.3
North Carolina 4,965,432 8.9
Asheville 228,796 9.4
Burlington 81,414 8.8
Charlotte 1,361,084 9.3
Durham 294,946 7.9
Fayetteville 143,068 11.6
Goldsboro 48,216 8.2
Greensboro 361,567 10.3
Greenville 85,714 8.8
Hickory 166,984 9.0
Jacksonville 64,183 8.3
New Bern 50,621 7.5
Raleigh 707,515 8.0
Rocky Mount 63,807 11.3
Wilmington 149,668 8.3
Winston-Salem 319,173 8.9
North Dakota 409,533 6.4
Bismarck 70,037 4.9
Fargo 141,738 5.1
Grand Forks 53,888 5.8
Ohio 5,727,517 9.1
Akron 347,615 9.1
Canton-Massillon 194,703 8.8
Cincinnati 1,111,458 7.8
Cleveland 1,021,874 11.7
Columbus 1,081,435 8.2
Dayton 392,688 8.7
Lima 47,436 8.7
Mansfield 52,026 9.3
Springfield 63,041 8.4
Toledo 301,684 9.6
Weirton 50,226 10.7
Youngstown 229,183 11.8
Oklahoma 1,812,336 7.1
Enid 25,350 6.6
Lawton 50,226 7.3
Oklahoma City 678,629 7.1
Tulsa 472,144 7.6
Oregon 2,082,253 10.6
Albany 57,916 10.5
Bend 94,470 10.6
Corvallis 44,796 8.4
Eugene 182,420 10.6
Grants Pass 34,321 10.7
Medford 102,087 10.9
Portland 1,325,165 11.1
Salem 197,009 9.4
Pennsylvania 6,555,812 14.1
Allentown 450,595 13.9
Altoona 60,254 13.2
Bloomsburg 43,348 11.1
Chambersburg 78,410 12.2
East Stroudsburg 82,318 17.3
Erie 128,366 15.1
Gettysburg 56,167 10.3
Harrisburg 309,821 11.8
Johnstown 57,418 14.6
Lancaster 298,444 11.2
Lebanon 73,545 12.0
Philadelphia 3,187,644 14.1
Pittsburgh 1,220,757 14.5
Reading 229,109 13.4
Scranton 268,985 15.7
State College 75,437 9.6
Williamsport 53,378 13.4
York 238,292 12.0
Rhode Island 564,178 11.4
Providence 698,980 12.6
South Carolina 2,484,700 8.8
Charleston 411,389 9.2
Columbia 418,343 7.7
Florence 104,237 8.4
Greenville 457,562 7.9
Hilton Head Island 97,676 7.0
Myrtle Beach 209,023 10.6
Spartanburg 170,593 9.9
Sumter 46,245 9.7
South Dakota 474,154 6.0
Rapid City 76,334 6.8
Sioux Falls 160,033 5.5
Tennessee 3,173,394 9.9
Chattanooga 273,079 7.9
Clarksville 109,741 9.2
Cleveland 58,013 8.6
Jackson 61,474 9.5
Johnson City 85,143 8.5
Kingsport 130,487 8.8
Knoxville 409,283 7.9
Memphis 628,584 13.0
Morristown 50,954 8.9
Nashville 1,027,942 9.8
Texas 13,846,028 8.2
Abilene 77,159 5.9
Amarillo 125,356 5.1
Austin 1,225,085 6.7
Beaumont 168,490 11.9
Brownsville 164,664 11.0
College Station 132,611 5.8
Corpus Christi 201,053 10.0
Dallas 3,946,657 7.5
El Paso 358,376 8.7
Houston 3,386,174 9.4
Killeen 174,470 7.1
Laredo 115,608 9.1
Longview 95,031 8.5
Lubbock 159,034 6.4
McAllen 350,956 12.5
Midland 102,658 9.4
Odessa 85,549 12.6
San Angelo 52,010 7.3
San Antonio 1,194,989 7.9
Sherman 63,671 5.9
Texarkana 64,087 7.6
Tyler 106,147 7.2
Victoria 44,880 9.4
Waco 126,324 6.5
Wichita Falls 63,009 7.1
Utah 1,632,582 4.6
Logan 69,376 2.7
Ogden 344,558 4.0
Provo 315,453 3.6
St. George 77,962 5.2
Salt Lake City 677,351 5.3
Vermont 343,764 8.2
Burlington 124,218 7.6
Virginia 4,374,802 8.0
Blacksburg 85,030 6.9
Charlottesville 119,984 7.6
Harrisonburg 64,240 6.7
Lynchburg 121,105 7.5
Richmond 686,216 8.9
Roanoke 155,066 7.7
Staunton 63,236 6.3
Virginia Beach 872,954 9.3
Winchester 70,977 6.2
Washington 3,994,934 10.2
Bellingham 121,221 11.8
Bremerton 135,709 9.5
Kennewick 157,337 10.9
Longview 50,882 11.5
Mount Vernon 65,887 12.2
Olympia 149,863 10.4
Seattle 2,197,638 9.3
Spokane 285,607 11.4
Walla Walla 32,057 8.5
Wenatchee 67,316 10
Yakima 138,416 12.6
West Virginia 767,127 9.7
Beckley 46,956 10.2
Charleston 92,082 10.7
Huntington 144,285 8.9
Morgantown 68,188 8.6
Parkersburg 39,242 9.8
Wheeling 60,953 10.4
Wisconsin 3,066,529 7.0
Appleton 127,066 5.9
Eau Claire 88,580 6.7
Fond du Lac 57,440 5.8
Green Bay 171,606 6.6
Janesville 84,265 8.2
La Crosse 73,768 5.9
Madison 370,524 5.9
Milwaukee 817,705 8.4
Oshkosh 90,589 6.0
Racine 100,512 7.7
Sheboygan 61,704 6.2
Wausau 72,347 5.5
Wyoming 299,787 6.8
Casper 40,065 10.2
Cheyenne 49,070 5.8
Puerto Rico 1,042,138 7.3
Aguadilla 80,283 8.0
Arecibo 51,800 7.2
Guayama 18,387 7.2
Mayaguez 25,507 7.1
Ponce 87,327 7.4
San German 32,294 7.5
San Juan 708,940 7.1