19.2%: California Metro Area on Mexican Border Leads Nation in Unemployment

By Susan Jones | March 18, 2016 | 11:57am EDT

(CNSNews.com) - El Centro, California had a 19.2 percent unemployment rate in January, the highest of the 387 U.S. metropolitan areas surveyed by the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That compares with December's 21.5 percent unemployment rate in El Centro; and 23.4 percent in January 2015, so at least things are heading in the right direction in that city on the Mexican border.

Ames, Iowa and Boulder, Colorado had the lowest unemmployment rates of the 387 metropolitan areas in January at 2.5 percent each.

Only four states had metropolitan areas with double-digit unemployment rates, and California led the pack with nine cities (including to El Centro) having double digits:  Bakersfield (10.7%), Fresno (10.6%), Hanford-Corcoran (11.4%),  Madera (10.2%), Merced (12.8%), Salinas (11.2%), Visalia-Porterville (12.3%), and Yuba City (10.9%).

Most of those are inland California cities -- heavily dependent on agriculture, an industry affected by severe drought.

Three states -- Arizona, New Jersey and Washington State -- had one city each with double digit employment in January: Ocean City, N.J. (a beach resort) settled at 13.6% in the off-season; Yakima, Washington (another farming area) came in at 11.0 percent; and Yuma, Arizona (a retirement area) was 15.7%.

The D.C. metro area of Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, where government employment dominates, had a 4.2 percent jobless rate in January.

(The labor force data released on Friday are not seasonally adjusted.)

Nationally, unemployment rates were lower in January than they were a year earlier in 333 of the 387 metropolitan areas; higher in 43 areas; and unchanged in 11 areas, BLS reported.

Six areas had jobless rates of less than 3.0 percent, and 12 areas (noted above) had rates of at least 10.0 percent.

A total of 187 areas had January jobless rates below the U.S. unemployment rate of 5.3 percent (not seasonally adjusted); 184 areas had rates above 5.3 percent, and 16 areas had rates equal to that of the nation.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the national unemployment rate in January was 4.9 percent.


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