Special Report

Cities With the Highest (and Lowest) Unemployment Rates

Burlington-South Burlington, Vermont
Source: Thinkstock

3. Burlington-South Burlington, VT
> December 2015 unemployment rate:
2.4%
> Unemployment rate, December 2014: 3.2%
> Unemployment rate, December 2005: 3.0%
> Median household income: $61,947
> Poverty rate: 10.4%
> Pct. of adults with a bachelor’s degree: 41.7%

Burlington is the largest city in Vermont and home to the University of Vermont as well as several other educational institutions. This partially explains the area’s particularly high college attainment rate. More than two in every five adults have at least a college degree. This also helps explain the low unemployment rate, which at 2.4% trails only Lincoln and Ames. The Burlington area also benefits from a low poverty rate. Just 10.4% of people live in poverty, one of the lowest rates in the nation.

Lincoln, Nebraska
Source: Thinkstock

2. Lincoln, NE
> December 2015 unemployment rate:
2.3%
> Unemployment rate, December 2014: 2.6%
> Unemployment rate, December 2005: 3.2%
> Median household income: $52,046
> Poverty rate: 14.0%
> Pct. of adults with a bachelor’s degree: 35.6%

Like nearly every other low-unemployment area, Lincoln’s jobless rate of 2.3% is down from a year ago as well as from 2005. The area’s economy weathered the financial crisis extremely well, with the unemployment rate peaking at 4.2% in 2009, a time considered to be the depths of the downturn.

Ames, Iowa
Source: Thinkstock

1. Ames, IA
> December 2015 unemployment rate:
2.2%
> Unemployment rate, December 2014: 2.6%
> Unemployment rate, December 2005: 2.8%
> Median household income: $46,091
> Poverty rate: 22.5%
> Pct. of adults with a bachelor’s degree: 47.9%

No metro area has a lower unemployment rate than Ames, Iowa, where just 2.2% of the workforce is out of a job and looking for work, down from the year before and from 2005. Even in those years, the December jobless rates were among the lowest in the country. The area is home to numerous universities and educational institutions as well as major employers. This may partially explain the high educational attainment levels and low jobless rate. More than two in every five members of the labor force are employed in educational services and health care and social assistance. Of adults living in the area, nearly half have a bachelor’s degree.

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