Cities With the Highest (and Lowest) Unemployment

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9. Fresno, CA
> 2014 November unemployment rate: 11.2%
> 2013 poverty rate: 28.8%
> 2013 median household income: $43,925
> 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 19.8%

Poor educational attainment rates among Fresno residents partly contributed to the region’s high unemployment rate of 11.2%. Less than three-quarters of adults had completed at least high school, and less than one in five adults held at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2013, both among the lowest proportions nationwide. Fresno’s poverty rate of nearly 29% was also one of the worst in the country. Like many California metro areas, Fresno relies heavily on agriculture, and the industry has suffered from the drought afflicting the region. Nearly one in 10 members of the workforce was employed in the agriculture, forestry, fishing and mining industry, one of the higher proportions in the country.

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8. Atlantic City-Hammonton, NJ
> 2014 November unemployment rate: 11.3%
> 2013 poverty rate: 18.0%
> 2013 median household income: $52,127
> 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 23.5%

Nearly 28% of workers in the Atlantic City-Hammonton metro area were employed in the arts, entertainment, recreation and accommodation and food services industry in 2013, the second highest such proportion nationwide. Many of these workers were likely employed in the various casinos and resorts in the region. Alongside Atlantic City’s shrinking popularity as a tourist destination, however, its labor force shrank by nearly 4% from November 2013 to November 2014, nearly the largest decline. Widespread casino closings in the area account in part for the downturn. And while a shrinking labor force can open job opportunities, the metro area’s unemployment rate of 11.3% in November had increased slightly from the year before.

7. Hanford-Corcoran, CA
> 2014 November unemployment rate: 11.7%
> 2013 poverty rate: 21.4%
> 2013 median household income: $45,774
> 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 12.9%

With severe drought conditions afflicting California and the surrounding region, the high concentration of farm jobs in the Hanford-Corcoran area — 17.5% of the workforce — can largely account for the poor economic climate. More than 21% of residents lived in poverty, one of the highest rates, and less than 13% of area adults held at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2013, among the lowest rates nationwide. These weak economic indicators can also partly explain the high unemployment rate of nearly 12% in November.

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6. Yuba City, CA
> 2014 November unemployment rate: 12.1%
> 2013 poverty rate: 18.7%
> 2013 median household income: $46,773
> 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 17.0%

The Yuba City metro area’s economy is especially weak. While unemployment rates fell across the nation and in most metro areas, Yuba City’s November unemployment rate of 12.1% increased 4.5 percentage points from the year before, nearly the worst increase in the country. The area’s labor force also shrank by 1.5% over that period, one of the worst declines. As in many other poor metro job markets, median home prices in the area fell by nearly 58% from their peak in 2006, one of the larger drops among all metro areas.

5. Merced, CA
> 2014 November unemployment rate: 12.2%
> 2013 poverty rate: 25.2%
> 2013 median household income: $40,687
> 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 13.5%

Poor educational attainment rates frequently account in part for high unemployment rates. While nearly 30% of adults nationwide held at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2013, only 13.5% of Merced residents did so, one of the lowest educational attainment rates. The poor job climate has also likely made getting out of poverty more difficult for many people. More than one in four area residents lived in poverty in 2013, one of the highest poverty rates nationwide. Merced’s housing market was also obliterated during the period leading up to the national crisis. Median home values in the beginning of last year had plummeted 94% from their peak in the middle of 2006.