If jobs are the primary measure of the strength of the American economy, the economy is colossally strong. In May, America added another 253,000 jobs, keeping up a string of muscular job reports that goes back over a year. The unemployment rate is 3.4%, nearly the lowest in five decades.
Some economists believe the jobs numbers are the calm before the storm. The more people have jobs, the more pressure there is on the daily prices of goods and services. That means inflation. Inflation triggers higher interest rates. Higher interest rates slow the economy. A slowing economy means layoffs. Each month experts say this string of events is just around the corner. Every month it is not.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks unemployment rates for cities and states. The data usually lags the national figure by a few weeks. The March data showed that the jobless rate was lower, than a year earlier in 208 of the 389 metropolitan areas, higher in 151 areas, and unchanged in 30 areas,
There was a considerable difference from city to city, compared to the national number. In March, Decatur, AL; Huntsville, AL; and Rapid City, SD, had the lowest unemployment rates, 1.6% each.
The city with the highest unemployment rate was El Centro, California, at 15.6%, over four times the national average. The labor force in the city was 71,396. The number of people out of work was 11,46. The next highest rates were in Visalia-Porterville, CA at 11.3%, and Merced, CA, 11.2%.
El Centro is on the Mexican border, across from Mexicali. One reason for the high jobless rate is that the economy is dominated by agriculture, the employment of which is seasonal. High levels of drought have not helped.
The factors that make the El Centro jobless rates high will not go away, so the number will not change much going forward.
Also read: states with the highest unemployment
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