Special Report

50 Counties With the Highest Unemployment

The United States is in an unprecedented period of employment growth, gaining jobs for over 100 straight months. As the number of Americans working has increased, the unemployment rate has shrunk, down to 3.8% in June 2019, close to its lowest point in decades.

But job growth and unemployment levels are far from uniform across the country. Many counties have an unemployment rate more than double the national rate. In fact, there are several counties with double-digit unemployment rates. In a handful of counties, the unemployment rate is approaching 20%.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to determine the counties and county equivalents with the highest unemployment rates.

Educational attainment and unemployment tend to be strongly correlated, as those with a college degree are often more attractive candidates for a given job compared to those without a degree. This can make it more difficult for workers who do not have at least a bachelor’s degree to find steady work. In all 50 of the counties with the highest unemployment rates, the bachelor’s degree attainment rate for adults is below the U.S. rate of 30.9%. Over half of the 50 counties with the highest unemployment rates are located in the five states with the lowest adult bachelor’s attainment rates in the country. These are America’s most and least educated states.

Unemployment can be a major financial strain, not just on those looking for a job but on the community as well. Localities, states, and the federal government often provide financial aid to the unemployed. Children of unemployed parents can face serious, long-term negative psychological effects. Anti-poverty subsidies and tax credits can help families facing unemployment and lift children out of poverty. These are the states lifting the most children out of poverty.

Click here to see the 50 counties with the highest unemployment
Click here to read our methodology