The jobs recovery has been very uneven. States and cities with industries particularly battered by the pandemic were hit extremely hard. Examples of this are the cities in Hawaii that suffered from tourism-related layoffs. Las Vegas and the entire state of Nevada had similar problems.
Overall, the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a recession early last year that took unemployment levels close to Great Depression levels. Just before the virus hit the United States, the jobless rate was below 4%, one of the lowest rates in half a century. As the American economy snapped back, so did the number of people with jobs. The national unemployment rate dropped to 5.2% in August, as the number of employed people rose by 235,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
According to the latest BLS Metropolitan Area Employment and Unemployment report, unemployment rates were lower in August than a year earlier in 385 of the 389 metros, higher in three and unchanged in one.
A total of 43 cities had jobless rates below 3%, and four had rates that were 10% or higher. The city with the lowest unemployment rate was Lincoln, Nebraska, at 1.7%. It was followed closely by Grand Island, Nebraska, at 1.9%. The city with the highest unemployment was El Centro, California, at 19.4%.
According to FRED, part of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, unemployment in El Centro has been extremely high for decades. In December 2010, the Great Recession drove its jobless level to over 30%. Since 1991, it has rarely been below 15%. El Centro city, at the center of the El Centro metropolitan statistical area, has a population of 44,079. Eighty-seven percent of the population is Hispanic or Latino. The household income is an unusually low $47,864.
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