WASHINGTON (Oct. 4, 2012) — Unemployment rates were lower in August than a year earlier in 325 of the 372 metropolitan areas, higher in 40 areas, and unchanged in 7 areas, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday. Five areas recorded jobless rates of at least 15 percent, while 20 areas registered rates of less than 5 percent. Two hundred seventy-four metropolitan areas reported over-the-year increases in non-farm payroll employment, 92 reported decreases, and 6 had no change. The national unemployment rate in August was 8.2 percent, not seasonally adjusted, down from 9.1 percent a year earlier.
Metropolitan area unemployment
In August, 54 metropolitan areas reported jobless rates of at least 10 percent, down from 99 areas a year earlier, while 123 areas posted rates below 7 percent, up from 73 areas in August of last year. El Centro, Calif., and Yuma, Ariz., recorded the highest unemployment rates in August 2012, 29.9 percent each. Bismarck, N.D., registered the lowest unemployment rate, 2.6 percent. A total of 214 areas recorded August unemployment rates below the U.S. figure of 8.2 percent, 150 areas reported rates above it, and 8 areas had rates equal to that of the nation.
The largest over-the-year unemployment rate decrease in August was registered in Pascagoula, Miss. (-3 percentage points). Twenty-five additional areas had decreases of 2 percentage points or more. Elmira, N.Y., reported the largest over-the-year jobless rate increase (+1.6 percentage points), followed by Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, Wash. (+1.5 points). Three other areas had increases of at least 1 percentage point from a year earlier.
Among the 49 metropolitan areas with a Census 2000 population of 1 million or more, the highest unemployment rates in August were registered in Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev., and Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif., 12.3 percent each. Four additional large areas posted rates of 10 percent or more. The lowest jobless rate among the large areas was recorded in Oklahoma City, Okla., 4.6 percent. Forty-three large areas reported over-the-year unemployment rate decreases, five registered increases, and one had no change. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla., experienced the largest unemployment rate decline from August 2011 (-2.2 percentage points). Thirty-one other large areas reported rate decreases of at least 1 percentage point. Buffalo-Niagara Falls, N.Y., was the only large area to record an unemployment rate increase larger than 1 percentage point (+1.1 points).
Metropolitan division unemployment
Eleven of the most populous metropolitan areas are made up of 34 metropolitan divisions, which are essentially separately identifiable employment centers. In August 2012, Detroit- Livonia-Dearborn, Mich., registered the highest jobless rate among the divisions, 12.4 percent. Framingham, Mass., reported the lowest division rate, 4.9 percent.
Twenty-seven of the metropolitan divisions recorded over-the-year jobless rate decreases in August, while seven registered increases. Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall, Fla., posted the largest rate decline from a year earlier (-2 percentage points). Twelve additional divisions had decreases of 1 percentage point or more. No division reported an unemployment rate increase over the year greater than 0.8 percentage point.
In five of the 11 metropolitan areas that contain divisions, the ranges between the highest and lowest division jobless rates were 2 percentage points or more in August. Boston- Cambridge-Quincy, Mass.-N.H., recorded the largest rate difference among its divisions, 6.3 percentage points (Lawrence-Methuen-Salem, Mass.-N.H., 11.2 percent, compared with Framingham, Mass., 4.9 percent).
Metropolitan area non-farm employment
In August, 274 metropolitan areas reported over-the-year increases in non-farm payroll employment, 92 reported decreases, and 6 had no change. The largest over-the-year employment increase occurred in New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, N.Y.-N.J.-Pa. (+117,900), followed by Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, Calif. (+103,000), and Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas (+89,500). The largest over-the-year percentage gain in employment was reported in Lafayette, La. (+9.4 percent), followed by Columbus, Ind. (+9.1 percent), and Pascagoula, Miss. (+6.9 percent).
The largest over-the-year decrease in employment occurred in Myrtle Beach-North Myrtle Beach-Conway, S.C. (-5,000), followed by Colorado Springs, Colo. (-4,400), and Milwaukee- Waukesha-West Allis, Wis. (-4,000). The largest over-the-year percentage decrease in employment was reported in Dalton, Ga. (-5.1 percent), followed by Hot Springs, Ark. (-4.9 percent), Yuba City, Calif. (-4.3 percent), and Pittsfield, Mass. (-4.2 percent).
Over the year, non-farm employment rose in 36 of the 37 metropolitan areas with annual average employment levels above 750,000 in 2011. The largest over-the-year percentage increases in employment in these large metropolitan areas were posted in Houston- Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas (+3.5 percent), San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif. (+3.4 percent), and Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, Texas, and San Francisco-Oakland- Fremont, Calif. (+3.2 percent each). Only one of the large areas reported a percentage decrease: Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, Wis. (-0.5 percent).
Metropolitan division non-farm employment
Non-farm payroll employment data were available in August 2012 for 32 metropolitan divisions, which are essentially separately identifiable employment centers within a metropolitan area. Twenty-nine of the 32 metropolitan divisions reported over-the-year employment gains, while 3 reported losses. The largest over-the-year increases in the metropolitan divisions occurred in New York-White Plains-Wayne, N.Y.-N.J. (+92,900), and Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif. (+74,000). The largest over-the-year decreases in the metropolitan divisions were in Nashua, N.H.-Mass., and West Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Boynton Beach, Fla. (-2,600 each). (See table 4.)
The largest over-the-year percentage increase in employment among the metropolitan divisions was reported in San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, Calif. (+3.8 percent), followed by Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash. (+3 percent), and Peabody, Mass. (+2.8 percent). The largest over-the-year percentage decrease in employment occurred in Nashua, N.H.-Mass. (-2.1 percent).