Cities With the Highest (and Lowest) Unemployment

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14. Vineland-Bridgeton, NJ
> 2014 November unemployment rate: 9.2%
> 2013 poverty rate: 20.6%
> 2013 median household income: $45,978
> 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 13.7%

The Vineland metro areas had the 10th lowest college attainment rate in the country, at 13.7% of adults. The region has struggled with relatively high unemployment rates for roughly five years. In an effort to stimulate the local economy in 2006, portions of Vineland were designated Urban Enterprise Zones. Sales taxes are reduced for retailers in these zones. Despite the metro area’s otherwise difficult labor struggles, the retail trade sector employed almost 14% of the area’s workforce, the 49th highest share among 358 metros.

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13. Bakersfield, CA
> 2014 November unemployment rate: 9.6%
> 2013 poverty rate: 22.8%
> 2013 median household income: $46,879
> 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 14.4%

The Bakersfield metro area is located in the San Joaquin Valley, a major source of agricultural products for both California and the rest of the nation. More than 17% of the area’s workforce was employed in the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and mining industry, nearly the highest such share in the country. The drought afflicting California and surrounding areas has not helped Bakersfield’s economy. Nearly one in 10 area workers were unemployed, and nearly 23% of residents lived in poverty, both among the highest rates nationwide in 2013.

12. Stockton-Lodi, CA
> 2014 November unemployment rate: 10.7%
> 2013 poverty rate: 19.9%
> 2013 median household income: $51,432
> 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 17.2%

Like most areas with struggling job markets, roughly one in five Stockton-Lodi metro area residents lived in poverty in 2013, one of the highest rates nationwide. There were also more than 700 violent crimes reported in Stockton per 100,000 residents in 2013, one of the highest rates nationwide. As of the first quarter of last year, the median home price in the Stockton metro area had fallen nearly 80% from the peak of well over $1 million in the second quarter of 2006.

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12. Modesto, CA
> 2014 November unemployment rate: 10.7%
> 2013 poverty rate: 22.1%
> 2013 median household income: $47,962
> 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 16.0%

The Modesto metro area’s unemployment rate of 10.7% in November had actually improved 1.4 percentage points from the previous year, a slightly faster improvement than the national change. As in many areas in California, however, Modesto was hit especially hard by the housing crisis and is a long way from full recovery. The median home price fell more than 80% from its peak in the first quarter of 2006, nearly the worst housing price decline among all metro areas.

12. Madera, CA
> 2014 November unemployment rate: 10.7%
> 2013 poverty rate: 23.6%
> 2013 median household income: $39,758
> 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 13.0%

Twenty-three percent of Madera’s workforce was employed in the agriculture, forestry, fishing and mining industry in 2013, the highest such proportion nationwide. As in most California metro areas with the highest unemployment rates, the bulk of the sector’s employees were agricultural workers, and with the severe drought conditions throughout the region, Madera’s workforce is far from healthy. Nearly 11% of workers were unemployed, and nearly 24% of residents lived in poverty in 2013, both among the highest rates. In addition, nearly 19% had no health insurance, one of the higher rates in the country.