Jobs

This City Has the Worst Unemployment in America

The unemployment rate in America has improved considerably since the tremendous rise in the jobless rate that began in April 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic started to savage the country. In the months before that, the unemployment rate as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) had dropped to a five-decade low of 3.5%. In the past two months, the economy has added fewer jobs than expected. However, there has been an improvement. In May, the national unemployment rate dropped to 5.8% as America added 559,000 jobs.

The BLS also reports unemployment rates by city and state, and the figures vary substantially. Its most recent metro jobs report is the “METROPOLITAN AREA EMPLOYMENT AND UNEMPLOYMENT — APRIL 2021.” It covers the country’s 389 largest cities by population. Across those, the data show that nonfarm payroll employment rose year over year in 335 metro areas and was nearly unchanged in 54 others.

As an indication of how much the employment situation in the United States changes from place to place, note that 27 cities had unemployment rates below 3% and 10 cities had rates above 10%. The 10% level matches the worst monthly national unemployment rate for the entire nation during the Great Recession, which shows how devastating the jobs situation remains in parts of the country today.

The city with the lowest unemployment rate in April was Logan, Utah, at 2.0%. At the other end of the spectrum, the unemployment rate in El Centro, California, was 16.1%. That is about the same as the annual national rate toward the end of the Great Depression.

Both Logan and El Centro are small compared to most other American metros. El Centro has a civilian labor force of 64,910 and Logan’s is 72,616.

El Centro has the demographic hallmarks of a city where the population is in trouble financially. The median household income is only $46,457, about $20,000 below the national average. The poverty rate is 24.6%, more than double the national figure.

The El Centro jobs situation, at least as it compares to the country as a whole, is unlikely to improve. It has been on the list of the cities with the highest unemployment for years.

Click here to read about the 25 lowest-paying jobs in America.