Cities With the Highest (and Lowest) Unemployment

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14. Provo-Orem, UT
> 2014 November unemployment rate: 3.0%
> 2013 poverty rate: 13.7%
> 2013 median household income: $60,051
> 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 37.7%

In addition to an unemployment rate of just 3.0%, Provo-Orem metro area residents had relatively high incomes and benefited from an exceptionally low violent crime rate. A typical household earned more than $60,000 in 2013, one of the highest median household incomes nationwide. There were also 70.2 violent crimes reported per 100,000 area residents in 2013, a lower rate than in all but five other metro areas reviewed.

13. Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA
> 2014 November unemployment rate: 2.9%
> 2013 poverty rate: 12.7%
> 2013 median household income: $55,382
> 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 33.4%

Omaha-Council Bluffs may be the home of Warren Buffett, the Oracle of Omaha, but his company, Berkshire-Hathaway, does not appear on the city’s list of top 100 employers. Instead, the list is led by Offutt Air Force Base, with health care employers taking four of the next five slots. The fifth is the local public school system as nearly one-quarter of Omaha-Council Bluffs’ workforce is employed by the educational services and health care industry. The area’s median household income was just $55,382, versus the national median of $52,250.

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12. Odessa, TX
> 2014 November unemployment rate: 2.8%
> 2013 poverty rate: 14.6%
> 2013 median household income: $55,710
> 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 13.8%

The Odessa metro area is one of just 13 metro areas in the country where the unemployment rate was less than 3.0% this past November. Nearly 13% of the area’s workforce was employed in the agriculture, forestry, and mining industry, many times the national share of 2.0% in these jobs and one of the highest shares among metro areas. While jobs are readily available compared to other areas, many employment opportunities likely do not require very much education. Less than 14% of area adults held at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2013, nearly the lowest rate nationwide and less than half the comparable national educational attainment rate of nearly 30%. Odessa also had a reported violent crime rate of more than 800 incidents per 100,000 people, one of the highest in the country.

11. Sioux Falls, SD
> 2014 November unemployment rate: 2.7%
> 2013 poverty rate: 9.0%
> 2013 median household income: $55,952
> 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 32.3%

Like several other metro areas with especially strong job markets, Sioux Falls is among the areas that thrived as a result of the regional oil boom. Large drilling sites are not far from the metro area. However, the financial sector employed more than 13% of the workforce, more than twice the share nationwide and third highest among all metro areas. Sioux Falls’ economic growth has been primarily due to its location along major north-south and east-west interstate highways, according to The Economist.

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8. Rochester, MN
> 2014 November unemployment rate: 2.6%
> 2013 poverty rate: 7.9%
> 2013 median household income: $62,645
> 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 35.3%

The Rochester metro area had a poverty rate of 7.9% in 2013, nearly the lowest rate nationwide. Largely due to Rochester’s unemployment rate of just 2.6%, the median household income was $62,645 in 2013, one of the higher figures in the nation. In addition, like most strong job markets, more than one-third of adults had at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2013, also one of the higher proportions.