Cities With the Highest (and Lowest) Unemployment

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Lowest Unemployment Rate

24. Madison, WI
> 2014 November unemployment rate: 3.4%
> 2013 poverty rate: 13.4%
> 2013 median household income: $59,466
> 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 42.4%

In November 2014, 3.4% of Madison Wisconsin’s workforce was unemployed, tied for the 24th lowest rate nationwide. By contrast, the national unemployment rate in November was 5.8%. As in many other metro areas with relatively low unemployment rates, Madison residents are well educated. More than 42% of adults in the area held at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2013, one of the higher rates compared with other metro areas.

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24. Dubuque, IA
> 2014 November unemployment rate: 3.4%
> 2013 poverty rate: 13.7%
> 2013 median household income: $51,735
> 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 26.6%

Strategically located at the junction of three states — Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin — Dubuque serves as a commercial, industrial, cultural, and educational hub. Like most U.S. metro areas, and strong metro job markets in particular, Dubuque’s largest employers are in the education and health sectors: the community school district, Mercy Medical Center, the University of Wisconsin Platteville, and Finley Hospital. Dubuque is also home to a major John Deere manufacturing plant and a large IBM facility. Dubuque’s 3.4% unemployment rate in November improved 0.2 percentage points from one year earlier.

24. Rapid City, SD
> 2014 November unemployment rate: 3.4%
> 2013 poverty rate: 14.5%
> 2013 median household income: $48,641
> 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 24.5%

A typical household in Rapid City earned less than $49,000 in 2013, lower than the national median household income of $52,250. However, the area’s job market is very strong, with an unemployment rate of just 3.4% in November. The low unemployment rate is due in large part to jobs generated by the regional oil boom. In 2013, 4.6% of Rapid City’s working population was employed in the agriculture, forestry, fishing, hunting and mining, one of the highest rates and more than twice the comparable national rate of 2.0%. As Kohli explained, regional oil booms can boost job growth in a variety of sectors in addition to the mining industry.

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24. Morgantown, WV
> 2014 November unemployment rate: 3.4%
> 2013 poverty rate: 19.2%
> 2013 median household income: $47,051
> 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 32.5%

Morgantown, the county seat of Monongalia County, had a modest 0.1 percentage point improvement in its unemployment rate from November 2013, as its labor force grew 2.0% over the same period. More than 31% of workers were employed in the education and health services industry, the highest share among industries in the area and among the higher such proportions nationwide. The concentration in the sector was led by Ruby Memorial Hospital and the Ruby Day Surgery Center.