Cities With the Highest (and Lowest) Unemployment

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24. Burlington-South Burlington, VT
> 2014 November unemployment rate: 3.4%
> 2013 poverty rate: 10.5%
> 2013 median household income: $62,022
> 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 43.3%

The strong job market in the Burlington-South Burlington metro area may have helped raise the health insurance coverage rate. Just 6.2% of Burlington area residents did not have health insurance in 2013, less than half the comparable national rate and one of the lowest figures among all metro areas. The Burlington-South Burlington metro area was home to the University of Vermont, which contributed to relatively high educational attainment rates and stimulated the region’s economy.

21. State College, PA
> 2014 November unemployment rate: 3.3%
> 2013 poverty rate: 19.8%
> 2013 median household income: $53,207
> 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 41.7%

Unlike most metro areas with the lowest unemployment rates, nearly one in five residents in the State College area lived in poverty in 2013, one of the highest poverty rates nationwide. The healthy economy may also have helped keep State College safe. There were 92.7 violent crimes reported per 100,000 people in the area in 2013, one of the lowest crime rates.

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21. Amarillo, TX
> 2014 November unemployment rate: 3.3%
> 2013 poverty rate: 16.0%
> 2013 median household income: $49,207
> 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 23.4%

Amarillo’s unemployment rate improved by 0.9 percentage points from November 2013 to November 2014, aided by a one percentage point drop in the city’s labor force. Government is a major employer in the city of Amarillo, which makes up a large portion of the metro area, through the local school district and city government. The city is also the home to Pantex, a key Department of Defense supplier, and to a major Tyson Foods facility.

21. St. Cloud, MN
> 2014 November unemployment rate: 3.3%
> 2013 poverty rate: 13.6%
> 2013 median household income: $55,513
> 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 24.0%

Along with a strong job market, St. Cloud residents are better-off financially than most Americans. The metro area’s median household income of $55,513 in 2013 was higher than the national figure of $52,250. Most metro areas with low unemployment rates weathered the housing crisis considerably better than most regions. However, in St. Cloud, median home prices fell 18.5% from the 2007 peak to the first quarter of last year, worse than the national home price drop during that time of 15.9%.

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17. Fort Collins, CO
> 2014 November unemployment rate: 3.2%
> 2013 poverty rate: 14.3%
> 2013 median household income: $59,052
> 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 43.3%

Fort Collins’s unemployment rate dropped 1.8 percentage points from November 2013, despite a 2.2 percentage point increase in the city’s labor force over the same period. The city is home to Colorado State University as well as many high tech companies, including Hewlett Packard, Intel, and AMD among others.