Both regional and state unemployment rates saw little change in the United States metropolitan areas, according to the latest BLS “Metropolitan Area Employment and Unemployment” report. In July, the national unemployment rate increased slightly to 6.2 percent – 1.1 percentage points lower than July of last year. Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia have seen unemployment rate decreases over the past year.
Looking deeper into the July metro area numbers, Bismarck, North Dakota once again led the nation with the lowest unemployment rate — now at 2.4 percent, a decrease of 0.2 percentage points from June. Of the 372 metropolitan areas, 15 had jobless rates of at least 10 percent, whereas 68 areas had rates of less than 5.0 percent.
In other positive news, unemployment rates were lower in July than a year earlier in 348 of the 372 metropolitan areas, higher in 16 areas, and unchanged in 8 areas. Additionally, all 34 metropolitan divisions had over-the-year unemployment rate decreases in July. The largest decrease was in Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, Illinois (-2.8 percentage points), followed by Lawrence-Methuen-Salem, Massachusetts/New Hampshire (-2.1 points) and Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, California (-2.0 points).
Here are some key regional highlights from the BLS “Metropolitan Area Employment and Unemployment — July 2014” report:
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By the end of July, the unemployment rate for the Mid-Atlantic region remained unchanged from the previous month, at 6.3 percent. Philadelphia City, Pennsylvania had the largest rate decline from a year earlier (-2.6 percentage points) and Morgantown, West Virginia reported the lowest unemployment rate at 4.3 percent (+0.2 percentage points from the previous month).
The Midwest region boasted the lowest unemployment in the country, with an unemployment rate at 5.9 percent. North Dakota lead the charge in this region once again, with the lowest unemployment rate of 2.8 percent. By city, Bismarck, North Dakota had the lowest unemployment rate with an impressive 2.4 (-0.2 percentage points from the previous month). Regarding employment, the largest over the year percentage increase in job growth also occurred in North Dakota (+4.4 percent).
By month’s end, Nevada once again realized the largest unemployment rate decrease in the region with a 2.2 percent decrease from the previous year. Unfortunately, the state came in last in the region with a monthly unemployment rate of 7.7 percent. Yuma, Arizona continues to have one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, with 29.2 percent (+2.3 percentage points from the previous month).
The New England region showed a 0.1 percent increase in unemployment, rising to 5.8 percent. Vermont’s Burlington-South Burlington metro area and New Hampshire’s Portsmouth metro area were tied for the lowest unemployment rate of the region, at 3.6 percent. This region saw the highest unemployment rate in Lawrence-Methuen-Salem, Massachusetts/New Hampshire with 9.9 percent.
The Southeast region’s unemployment rate rose slightly from 6.0 to 6.1 percent during the month of July. South Carolina had the largest unemployment rate decline from a year earlier, with -2.0 percentage points. Overall, Virginia had the lowest unemployment rate, at 5.4 percent, while Mississippi had the highest, at 8.0 percent unemployment. The metro region with the lowest unemployment rate was Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin, Florida (4.9 percent), while the highest unemployment rate was reported in Dalton, Georgia (10.4 percent).
The Southwest region’s unemployment rose slightly from 5.1 to 5.2 percent in the month of July. Leading the charge in this region was Oklahoma, who had the lowest unemployment rate of 4.6 percent. Midland, Texas had the lowest rate of unemployment at 2.9 percent (-0.7 percentage points from the previous year). This region has seen significant growth in Texas – having the largest over the year increase in US employment at +396,200 added jobs.
The West continued to have the highest unemployment rate in the country at 6.6 percent (-0.1 from the previous month and -1.5 from the previous year). Within the region, Utah touts the lowest unemployment rate of 3.6 percent, with Logan, Utah/Idaho coming in at 3.3 percent. Once again, California has experienced one of the largest over the year job increases by adding 323,600 since June, 2013, and had an overall jobless rate of 7.4 (down 1.6 percent from June, 2013). El Centro, California continues to have the highest unemployment rate in the state coming in at 24.7 percent.