Special Report

Cities With the Highest (and Lowest) Unemployment Rates

Grand Rapids, Michigan
Source: Thinkstock

16. Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI
> December 2015 unemployment rate:
2.8%
> Unemployment rate, December 2014: 3.7%
> Unemployment rate, December 2005: 5.7%
> Median household income: $54,372
> Poverty rate: 13.8%
> Pct. of adults with a bachelor’s degree: 31.1%

Many of the top metro area job markets got through the financial crisis without major economic declines and have remained robust economies for some time. Despite its current relative economic strength, Grand Rapids’ unemployment rate peaked at 11.4% in December 2009, when it was well above the national rate and higher than in any other area on this list.

Manchester, New Hampshire
Source: Wikimedia Commons

16. Manchester-Nashua, NH
> December 2015 unemployment rate:
2.8%
> Unemployment rate, December 2014: 3.6%
> Unemployment rate, December 2005: 3.2%
> Median household income: $71,422
> Poverty rate: 8.7%
> Pct. of adults with a bachelor’s degree: 35.1%

While home prices in the Manchester area are some of the highest in the country, they are down 12.4% compared to the end of 2005. This is one of the larger drops of any area and exceptionally poor compared with other metros with the lowest unemployment rates.

Salt Lake City at night, Utah
Source: Thinkstock

16. Salt Lake City, UT
> December 2015 unemployment rate:
2.8%
> Unemployment rate, December 2014: 3.1%
> Unemployment rate, December 2005: 3.3%
> Median household income: $62,642
> Poverty rate: 11.4%
> Pct. of adults with a bachelor’s degree: 31.3%

There are several universities in Salt Lake City, including the University of Utah. The presence of such institutions is not only an attraction to young workers and companies looking to relocate, but also tends to coincide with lower unemployment.

Honolulu County, Hawaii
Source: Thinkstock

13. Urban Honolulu, HI
> December 2015 unemployment rate:
2.7%
> Unemployment rate, December 2014: 3.5%
> Unemployment rate, December 2005: 2.2%
> Median household income: $74,634
> Poverty rate: 9.7%
> Pct. of adults with a bachelor’s degree: 32.6%

In December of 2005, Urban Honolulu had the lowest unemployment rate in the nation at 2.2%. While the rate is slightly higher a decade later, the Honolulu area job market is still among the healthiest in the United States.

State Capitol, Bismarck, North Dakota
Source: Wikimedia Commons

13. Bismarck, ND
> December 2015 unemployment rate:
2.7%
> Unemployment rate, December 2014: 3.1%
> Unemployment rate, December 2005: 3.1%
> Median household income: $63,356
> Poverty rate: 9.8%
> Pct. of adults with a bachelor’s degree: 32.2%

North Dakota is among several Midwestern states with especially low unemployment rates. These states also weathered the financial crisis relatively well, Kohli explained. Not only has Bismarck benefited from its general geographic location, but also from North Dakota’s energy boom, which has dramatically increased job opportunities in recent years.

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