10 Cities With the Worst Jobless Rates in America

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Prospective employees in business attire wait in line for job interviews
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Job growth is one indication of a booming economy. And, right now, the U.S. is seeing notable gains. The national unemployment rate is down to 3.5%, unchanged since October and the lowest in more than 50 years.

Unfortunately, not everyone has enjoyed that uptick. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics‘ October data on 389 metropolitan areas, more than 100 had jobless rates above the nation’s average.

In 240 of those areas, the unemployment rate showed a decrease, however. In another 121 metros it went up, and in 28 it was unchanged, according to a November BLS release.

Following are metropolitan areas with the highest jobless rates in the country.

McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas

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Jobless rate: 5.6%

Rate change from 2018: Up 0.1 percentage point

Over the last 10 years, the state of Texas has seen a steady decline in the unemployment rate.

Unfortunately, the cities within the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission metro area — in the Rio Grande Valley region along the border with Mexico — have not followed the same trajectory. The region has an unemployment rate more than 2 percentage points above the state’s 3.4% rate.

Weirton-Steubenville, West Virginia-Ohio

A man with a construction work helmet worries after losing his job
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Jobless rate: 5.7%

Rate change from 2018: Up 0.3 percentage point

For those on the Ohio side of this metro area — along the Ohio River about 30 miles west of Pittsburgh — there is some reprieve knowing that the Buckeye State is generous with its unemployment insurance. Ohio’s maximum weekly benefit is $598.

Merced, California

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Jobless rate: 5.8%

Rate change from 2018: Down 0.4 percentage point

Unemployment in California is compounded by the fact that the state’s living wage, the amount of income required to meet basic needs in a place, is one of the nation’s highest.

In order for a family of four to make ends meet in California, both working adults must make $19.48 per hour.

Fresno, California

Fresno, California
Tupungato / Shutterstock.com

Jobless rate: 5.8%

Rate change from 2018: Down 0.6 percentage point

Unemployed and lower-income Fresno residents could be affected by upcoming restrictions to the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

One-fourth of Fresno households receive food stamps either through Cal Fresh or SNAP. With changes coming in April as a result of a rule change by the Trump administration, as many as 18,000 people in Fresno County could lose their benefits.

Longview, Washington

unemployed job seeker
Pressmaster / Shutterstock.com

Jobless rate: 5.9%

Rate change from 2018: Up 0.6 percentage point

There’s an upside to being unemployed in Washington state. It offers the highest maximum weekly unemployment benefit in the country.

On the other hand, the Evergreen State has the worst overall tax burden for its low-income residents.

Bakersfield, California

Bakersfield, California
Richard Thornton / Shutterstock.com

Jobless rate: 6.1%

Rate change from 2018: Down 0.4 percentage point

Finding a job is one thing, and finding a job that pays well is a whole different challenge.

In Bakersfield, the average hourly wage is about 5% below the national average of $24.98. Wages are especially low for workers in the sales, personal care and service industries.

Hanford-Corcoran, California

Unemployed worker
Parinya Maneenate / Shutterstock.com

Jobless rate: 6.3%

Rate change from 2018: Up 0.1 percentage point

It’s true that this region’s year-over-year increase in unemployment is minimal. However, the Hanford-Corcoran area has spent the better part of the last decade with a double-digit jobless rate.

As recently as March 2019, the area saw unemployment spike to 10.3%.

Visalia-Porterville, California

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Jobless rate: 8.0%

Rate change from 2018: Down 0.4 percentage point

The jobless rate in this city in California’s Central Valley is more than double the national unemployment rate.

And if you can land a job and hold onto it, Visalia-Porterville is one of the top 10 U.S. cities with the highest effective salaries, after the cost of living is factored in.

Yuma, Arizona

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Jobless rate: 16.1%

Rate change from 2018: Down 2.4 percentage points

Its jobless rate may be one of the highest, but it’s not all bad news for Yuma residents. The BLS list notes that unemployment in Yuma fell the most of any U.S. city in October compared with the year before.

A look at the last 10 years, however, shows that in Yuma, located in an agricultural area north of the Mexican border, unemployment typically rises sharply at the end of summer and hits its low point each spring.

El Centro, California

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Jobless rate: 21.2%

Rate change since 2018: Up 1.5 percentage points

According to Census.gov, nearly one-quarter of El Centro’s population lives in poverty.

El Centro, the Imperial County seat, is the commercial center of California’s Imperial Valley, an agricultural area in the southeastern corner of the state along the U.S. border with Mexico.

The Los Angeles Times wrote recently:

“Although some argue the seasonal nature of farming has inflated county unemployment figures, there is no denying Imperial County is well-acquainted with economic adversity.”

Are you familiar with these or other high-unemployment areas? Share your comments below or at Money Talks News on Facebook.

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