Cities With the Highest (and Lowest) Unemployment Rates

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The Cities With the Lowest Unemployment Rates

Rochester, Minnesota

22. Rochester, MN
> December 2015 unemployment rate:
2.9%
> Unemployment rate, December 2014: 3.1%
> Unemployment rate, December 2005: 3.5%
> Median household income: $66,214
> Poverty rate: 9.5%
> Pct. of adults with a bachelor’s degree: 35.9%

Rochester, Minnesota’s unemployment rate is lower than 3%, as is the case in just 22 other U.S. metro areas. Like most relatively healthy job markets, Rochester’s population is highly educated. Of adults in the area, 36% have at least a bachelor’s degree, one of the highest rates nationwide.

Amarillo, Texas

22. Amarillo, TX
> December 2015 unemployment rate:
2.9%
> Unemployment rate, December 2014: 2.9%
> Unemployment rate, December 2005: 3.5%
> Median household income: $51,280
> Poverty rate: 14.8%
> Pct. of adults with a bachelor’s degree: 22.7%

Amarillo is one of only a few metro areas where the unemployment rate remained unchanged and did not improve from December 2014. The area’s economy, however, is by no means unhealthy. Amarillo’s housing market, for example, which is closely tied to the job market, is doing very well. Home prices soared 22.5% from the fourth quarter of 2005 to the same time in 2015, one of the larger improvements of any area.

Fort Collins, Colorado

16. Fort Collins, CO
> December 2015 unemployment rate:
2.8%
> Unemployment rate, December 2014: 3.5%
> Unemployment rate, December 2005: 4.3%
> Median household income: $56,575
> Poverty rate: 13.2%
> Pct. of adults with a bachelor’s degree: 42.7%

At 2.8%, the unemployment rate in Fort Collins is tied with five other metro areas and is one of the lowest in the country. Like many of the nation’s strongest metro job markets, Fort Collins is home to a major university. Colorado State College, based in the city, likely helps attracts new employers looking for educated workers and partially explains the low jobless rate.

Manhattan, Kansas

16. Manhattan, KS
> December 2015 unemployment rate:
2.8%
> Unemployment rate, December 2014: 3.0%
> Unemployment rate, December 2005: 3.3%
> Median household income: $50,323
> Poverty rate: 19.6%
> Pct. of adults with a bachelor’s degree: 45.8%

Nearly 46% of adults in Manhattan, Kansas have at least a bachelor’s degree, well above the national average rate of 30.1% and one of the highest shares in the country. Well-educated workers not only tend to have more job opportunities, but they also tend to populate areas with healthy job markets. The area’s job market weathered the financial crisis especially well — Manhattan’s unemployment rate of 2.8% is lower even than it was 10 years ago, before the financial crisis.

Portland, Maine 2

16. Portland-South Portland, ME
> December 2015 unemployment rate:
2.8%
> Unemployment rate, December 2014: 4.0%
> Unemployment rate, December 2005: 3.2%
> Median household income: $59,573
> Poverty rate: 11.0%
> Pct. of adults with a bachelor’s degree: 38.6%

Compared to most healthy job markets, the housing market in the Portland, Maine area is not doing especially well. Home prices in the fourth quarter of 2015 were 1.6% lower than what they were in the same period 10 years prior. Still, back then as now, the area’s unemployment rate was well below the national rate and one of the lowest in the country.