Dismal Metro Unemployment Numbers

When the Governors appealed to President-elect Obama for help today, they had support from today's Bureau of Labor Statistics release of dismal October unemployment data for metro areas.

Metro area unemployment rates (not seasonally adjusted) in October were above the October year-earlier rates in 361 metro areas and below in only eight. Unemployment rates exceeded 10 percent in 13 metro areas and were below 3 percent in 11. (The national unemployment rate in October rose to 6.1 percent from 4.4 percent a year earlier.

Unemployment exceeded 7 percent in 98 metro areas, increasing from 16 areas a year earlier. They were below 4 percent in 43 areas, a drop from 151 a year earlier. The highest unemployment was in El Centro, Calif., 27.6 percent. Next highest was in neighboring Yuma, Ariz., 19.5 percent. The lowest unemployment rate was in Bismarck, N.D., 2.2 percent. Next lowest: Logan, Utah-Idaho, at 2.4 percent.

Overall, 148 areas exceeded the U.S. average rate of 6.1 percent and 216 areas reported rates below the U.S. average. This suggests that metro areas on the whole remain better places to find jobs than rural areas.

El Centro, Calif., had the largest increase in unemployment from a year earlier, 6.8 percentage points. The next-highest increase was in Elkhart-Goshen, Ind., 6.3 points. A total of 33 areas had increases of 3 percentage points or more. Another 92 areas had increases of 2.0 to 2.9 points. Jonesboro, Ark., fell the most from a year earlier, -0.6 percentage point.

Of 49 metro areas with a 1 million or more population, Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. had the highest rate, 9.5 percent. Eight other large areas posted rates of 7 percent or more. The large area with the lowest rate was Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Va.-Md.-W.Va., 4.1 percent. Next lowest: Oklahoma City, Okla., 4.2 percent.

All 49 large areas registered higher unemployment rates than a year earlier. The area with the largest increase was Providence-Fall River-Warwick, R.I.-Mass. (+3.8 percentage points). Next largest: Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. (+3.2 points). Fourteen other large areas had rate increases of 2 percentage points or more, and 29 other areas had rate increases of at least 1 point.