These Cities Have Unlikely Success Stories

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3. Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN
> Employment 2010-2017: +12.2% (564,311 to 633,120)
> 2010 Unemployment: 9.9%
> 2017 Unemployment: 4.1%
> Labor force 2010-2017: +5.4% (626,311 to 660,331)

The unemployment rate in the Louisville metropolitan area, which includes the surrounding Jefferson County, fell from nearly 10% in 2010 to just 4.1% in 2017. As a sign that the city’s low unemployment rate is not just a result of people giving up on looking for work, a recent report by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce found that Louisville had an employment-to-population ratio of nearly 60%, the highest among the state’s metropolitan areas. Louisville’s poverty rate of 12.2% as of 2017 was lower than the national rate of 13.4%.

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2. New Bedford, MA
> Employment 2010-2017: +12.6% (1,387,438 to 1,562,201)
> 2010 Unemployment: 9.7%
> 2017 Unemployment: 3.5%
> Labor force 2010-2017: +5.3% (1,537,187 to 1,618,828)

The southern Massachusetts city of New Bedford has dealt with many of the same long-term issues that larger legacy cities have. The former whaling city’s population declined by over 20% from its peak in the 20th century through 2010. The city lost manufacturing jobs in the city’s historic textile trade, among other areas.

Today, there is hope. The area’s annual unemployment rate of just 3.5% is well below the national unemployment rate of 4.4%. That came after a 6.2 percentage point decline in the unemployment rate from 2010. The city has added 175,000 jobs since 2000.

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1. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI
> Employment 2010-2017: +13.8% (1,772,626 to 2,017,560)
> 2010 Unemployment: 13.9%
> 2017 Unemployment: 4.4%
> Labor force 2010-2017: +2.6% (2,058,554 to 2,111,266)

Detroit’s decline has likely been among the most discussed — and most severe — among legacy cities. Between 1950 and 2010, the city’s population fell by 61%, second only to St. Louis among major metropolitan areas. Since 2000, the metro area’s population has increased only slightly, but there are many encouraging signs Detroit is turning a corner. The city’s improving unemployment rate, which once was among the worst in the country, is now at the national average. Employment in the Detroit region has increased by close to 250,000, a 13.8% rise. In 2010, at the height of national unemployment, the metro area’s 13.9% unemployment rate was one of the 20 highest in the country. Its current annual jobless rate of 4.4% is in line with the national rate.

Part of Detroit’s recovery comes from growth in tech sector manufacturing. According to one report by industry publication Select Resources, high-tech jobs in the area have increased by 26% in the past three years. A report by TechCrunch found that 70 companies had been founded in the city from the beginning of 2015 through the summer of 2017.