From 24/7 Wall St.: While the U.S. unemployment rate has improved markedly from the double digits during the recession, it was still stuck at 7.9 percent as of October. Some regions fare far better than rest of the country, despite the fact that more than 12 million people are still considered unemployed in the U.S. 24/7 Wall St. looked at the 10 metropolitan areas in the U.S. where unemployment barely exists.
Higher education and industries that support it are the reason these metropolitan areas are doing well. College towns across America tend to have lower unemployment rates than the population as a whole, Martin Kohli, Chief Regional Economist for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, explained in an interview. Universities often provide relatively stable jobs compared to employment in cyclical industries such as construction. The University of Iowa is located in Iowa City, Iowa State University is located in Ames, and the University of Nebraska is located in Lincoln — all three metro areas are on our list.
“These [metro areas] would be dominated by major industries such as the state university,” Kohli said. “The major jobs associated with major universities are teaching and administration, though there would be some research jobs.”
In addition, the metropolitan areas with low unemployment are, with few exceptions, clustered around the Great Plains area. Kohli explained that states such as Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, and until very recently, North Dakota, have seen far smaller population growth compared to the rest of the country. Although these places haven’t seen rapid job growth in recent years (except for North Dakota), fewer people are competing for the jobs available in these regions.
The jobs market in many of these metropolitan areas have also benefited from rising oil prices. Three of metro areas on the list with the lowest unemployment are based in North Dakota, which has brought thousands of people to the state due to the abundance of relatively high-paying jobs in the fracking industry. Midland, Texas, another metro area with low unemployment, has benefited a booming oil industry, although Kohli emphasized that not every part of Texas has benefited like Midland has.
24/7 Wall St. identified the ten metropolitan areas with the lowest unemployment rates as of October, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. State and local median household income was obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau. Data on the biggest industries was also obtained from the BLS.
These are the cities where everyone works, according to 24/7 Wall St.: