Cities With the Highest (and Lowest) Unemployment

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19. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX
> 2014 November unemployment rate: 8.2%
> 2013 poverty rate: 34.3%
> 2013 median household income: $35,098
> 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 16.2%

Like many metro areas with relatively high unemployment rate, McAllen faces the challenge of low educational attainment. Just 61.5% of McAllen area residents had completed at least high school, the lowest rate of any of the 358 metro areas. Only 16.2% of residents had a bachelor’s degree or higher as of 2013, also one of the worst rates. The weak education among residents pervaded other aspects of McAllen’s economic life. The metro had the highest rate of households receiving food stamps, the highest rate of individuals without health insurance and the highest percentage of residents living below the poverty line. Only three metro areas had a lower median household income in 2013.

18. Dalton, GA
> 2014 November unemployment rate: 8.3%
> 2013 poverty rate: 21.8%
> 2013 median household income: $37,659
> 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 12.2%

Dalton is home to many of the nation’s floor covering manufacturers and therefore suffered as home building slowed with the recession. The metro’s unemployment rate, which had been below 5% from 2004 until the onset of the Great Recession in 2007, jumped to double digit rates and only recently has begun to recover. The jobless rate improved a full percentage point from November 2013 to November 2014. The region remains impoverished: 19.5% of households received food stamps, 23.1% of individuals had no health insurance, and 21.8% of individuals lived below the poverty line.

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17. Salinas, CA
> 2014 November unemployment rate: 8.5%
> 2013 poverty rate: 17.9%
> 2013 median household income: $57,052
> 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 22.2%

The hometown of Nobel Prize author John Steinbeck, Salinas had one of the highest unemployment rates in the country in November 2014 despite improving 0.6 percentage points from November 2013. In the same period, the area’s labor force grew 0.6%. Salinas had one of the highest shares of agricultural jobs. In fact, it is one of seven metro areas with the highest unemployment rates to have a relatively high concentration of agricultural jobs, suggesting the lingering drought in California may have contributed to the high unemployment.

16. Longview, WA
> 2014 November unemployment rate: 8.8%
> 2013 poverty rate: 14.5%
> 2013 median household income: $48,417
> 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 15.6%

Longview’s unemployment rate shot up with the onset of the Great Recession, more than doubling from 6.3% in 2007 to 14.1% two years later. The area currently has the third highest share of other services jobs and the lowest share of jobs in the arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food service industry. Only 15.6% of adult residents had at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2013, nearly the lowest attainment rate of all metro areas.

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16. Yakima, WA
> 2014 November unemployment rate: 8.8%
> 2013 poverty rate: 20.8%
> 2013 median household income: $41,917
> 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 15.5%

While the national job market and the vast majority of metropolitan areas improved from November 2013 to November 2014, this was not the case in Yakima. The metro area’s unemployment rate of 8.8% rose 1.6 percentage points, one of the largest increases in the country. As in many other areas with high unemployment rates, Yakima residents struggle with poverty. Nearly 21% of area residents lived in poverty in 2013, one of the highest rates. More than 15% of the workforce was employed in the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and mining industry, considerably higher than the national share of just 2.0%.