American Cities Adding (and Losing) the Most Jobs

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5. Panama City-Lynn Haven-Panama City Beach, Fla.
> Jobs pct. change: -3.0%
> Total non-farm jobs: 70,700
> Total workforce: 85,992
> Unemployment rate: 6.0%

Unfortunately, the Panama City metro area hasn’t improved much since January, 2010 the worst month in the past six years. That month, there were just under 70,000 jobs in the region. At last count, there were 70,700 jobs. This October, the region’s labor force had shrunk by more than 5% from the year before — the third largest labor force decline nationwide. Because many residents left the area or stopped looking for work, the number of people considered unemployed declined by more than 25%, the largest decline out of all metro areas. The area’s annual median wage of $27,600 in 2012 remained one of the lowest in the nation.

4. Ocean City, N.J.
> Jobs pct. change: -3.2%
> Total non-farm jobs: 38,800
> Total workforce: 53,525
> Unemployment rate: 11.1%

The unemployment rate in Ocean City was 11.1% in October. However, the high unemployment rate may be in part due to the seasonal nature of work in the area. There is a strong leisure and hospitality sector in Ocean City that is subject to seasonal fluctuations. This past July, for example, there were 20,200 people employed in the sector. Three months later, in October, the sector had shrunk to 9,200. Even accounting for seasonality, the Ocean City job market is quite poor. As of October, total non-farm jobs were down 3.2% over the last 12 months. Further, the area’s annual median wage of $30,310 in 2012 was below the national median.

3. Palm Coast, Fla.
> Jobs pct. change: -3.4%
> Total non-farm jobs: 20,000
> Total workforce: 34,424
> Unemployment rate: 9.4%

The unemployment rate in Palm Coast, fell by 1.3 percentage points between October 2012 and October 2013. Still, with a 9.4% unemployment rate, the region continues to have one of the highest jobless rates in the country. The region has had exceptionally high unemployment rates for some time, well above 10% for nearly all of the last five years. In the last year alone, the region lost roughly 700 jobs, or about 3.4%. One of the biggest factors in this decline was the estimated loss of approximately 300 the government sector jobs.

2. Manhattan, Kan.
> Jobs pct. change: -3.5%
> Total non-farm jobs: 57,100
> Total workforce: 62,373
> Unemployment rate: 4.7%

Manhattan, Kansas, has struggled to grow jobs in recent years. Although the Little Apple’s unemployment rate was just 4.7% in October, up slightly from October 2012, the number of jobs in the area has declined by 3.5% in the last year. The public sector, including Kansas State University and Fort Riley, home to the U.S. Army’s 1st Infantry Division, is one of the area’s major employers — and one of its major sources of job losses. Government jobs declined by nearly 10% in the last 12 months. Federal defense spending cuts earlier this year impacted the Fort and its workers.

1. Decatur, Ill.
> Jobs pct. change: -4.3%
> Total non-farm jobs: 50,800
> Total workforce: 51,006
> Unemployment rate: 11.7%

Even as the Decatur area’s labor force shrank, its unemployment was persistently high. There were roughly 50,800 non-farm jobs in the metro area as of October, down from 53,100 one year earlier. Much of this job loss has been in manufacturing, where employment has declined 16% year-over-year through October. Also, agricultural processing giant Archer Daniels Midland has announced plans to move its global headquarters and top executives out of the area. Currently, Illinois legislators are working on a plan to keep the company in state, offering as much as $25 million in long-term tax incentives if the company moves its headquarters to Chicago while adding 500 jobs over five years in Decatur.