Cities With the Highest (and Lowest) Unemployment

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4. Midland, TX
> 2014 November unemployment rate: 2.3%
> 2013 poverty rate: 9.3%
> 2013 median household income: $71,442
> 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 27.3%

Located at the heart of the regional oil boom, Midland residents have enjoyed sustained economic growth for nearly a decade. Nearly 19% of the area’s workforce was employed in the agriculture, forestry and mining industry, the third highest share compared to other metro areas. Housing prices in the area were at their peak at the beginning of last year, while most other metro area housing markets were still far behind 2007 levels. The median household income of $71,442 in 2013 was also nearly the highest nationwide. Despite the strong job market and healthy economy, nearly 24% of residents did not have health insurance in 2013, one of the highest rates in the country.

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2. Mankato-North Mankato, MN
> 2014 November unemployment rate: 2.2%
> 2013 poverty rate: 16.7%
> 2013 median household income: $53,047
> 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 28.8%

The Mankato metro area is located along where the Minnesota River meets the Blue Earth River in the southern third of the state. As a college town — hosting a major campus of the University of Minnesota — Mankato’s economy is focused on education and healthcare. The area’s unemployment rate dropped a full percentage point from November 2013 to November 2014 even as its labor force grew 2.7%. In addition to a low unemployment rate, only 6.6% of the area’s population did not have health insurance in 2013, the 13th lowest rate in the country.

2. Fargo, ND-MN
> 2014 November unemployment rate: 2.2%
> 2013 poverty rate: 13.9%
> 2013 median household income: $51,961
> 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 35.3%

Just 2.2% of Fargo’s workforce was unemployed in November, down slightly from the year before. The region’s labor force also grew 3.8% over that period, among the fastest growth rates nationwide. As in other metro areas in and around North Dakota, Fargo’s healthy economy is largely due to the regional oil and natural gas boom.

1. Lincoln, NE
> 2014 November unemployment rate: 2.1%
> 2013 poverty rate: 15.5%
> 2013 median household income: $52,300
> 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 36.3%

Lincoln boasts the lowest unemployment rate of any metro area in the country, down 0.9 percentage points from one year earlier when it had the seventh lowest unemployment rate of all metro areas. Lincoln’s improvement came despite a 2.5% increase in the labor force over the same period. Government — not counting education — employs the second-largest share of the workforce in Lincoln, the capital of Nebraska. The area’s education sector, including the University of Nebraska, is also a major driver of employment in the area. B&R Stores, an 18-unit food store chain, is the area’s largest private employer.

Click here to see the metro areas with the highest unemployment rates