February 05, 2004
In December 2003, 194 metropolitan areas recorded lower jobless rates than a year earlier, 118 areas had higher rates, and 19 areas had rates that were unchanged.
San Jose, California, had the largest over-the-year unemployment rate decrease (-1.9 percentage points), closely followed by Reading, Pennsylvania (-1.8 points), and Fresno, California (-1.7 points).
Thirty-three additional areas recorded jobless rate decreases of at least 1.0 percentage point from December 2002. Among the 36 areas with rate decreases of 1.0 percentage point or more, 13 were located in the West and 10 each were located in the Northeast and South.
Danville, Virginia, registered the largest over-the-year jobless rate increase (+3.1 percentage points), with Steubenville-Weirton, Ohio-West Virginia, posting the next largest increase (+2.5 points). Both of these areas experienced large declines in manufacturing employment over the year, contributing to increased unemployment. Six additional areas—including four in Michigan—had rate increases of at least 1.0 percentage point.
These data come from the BLS Local Area Unemployment Statistics program. Data for December 2003 are preliminary. More metropolitan area unemployment statistics are available in "Metropolitan Area Employment and Unemployment: December 2003" (PDF) (TXT), news release USDL 04-118.