April 18, 2012
Unemployment rates were lower in February than a year earlier in 344 of the 372 metropolitan areas, higher in 19 areas, and unchanged in 9 areas. Thirteen areas recorded jobless rates of at least 15.0 percent, while 12 areas registered rates of less than 5.0 percent.
In February, 77 metropolitan areas reported jobless rates of at least 10.0 percent, down from 137 areas a year earlier, while 90 areas posted rates below 7.0 percent, up from 54 areas a year earlier.
El Centro, Calif., and Yuma, Ariz., recorded the highest unemployment rates in February, 26.7 and 23.7 percent, respectively. Ten of the other 11 areas with jobless rates of at least 15.0 percent were located in California. Bismarck, N.D., and Midland, Texas, registered the lowest unemployment rates, 3.8 percent each.
The largest over-the-year unemployment rate decreases in February were registered in three Michigan areas: Flint, Holland-Grand Haven, and Jackson (-2.2 percentage points each). An additional 161 areas had decreases of 1.0 percentage point or more. Yuma, Ariz., reported the largest over-the-year jobless rate increase (+2.0 percentage points). Two other areas had increases of more than 1.0 percentage point from a year earlier.
In February, 267 metropolitan areas reported over-the-year increases in nonfarm payroll employment, 98 reported decreases, and 7 had no change. The largest over-the-year employment increase occurred in New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, N.Y.-N.J.-Pa. (+117,700), followed by Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas (+93,400), Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas (+79,400), and Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Ga. (+43,900).
These data are from the Current Employment Statistics (State and Metro Area) and Local Area Unemployment Statistics programs. The most recent month's employment and unemployment data are preliminary and subject to revision. To learn more, see "Metropolitan Area Employment and Unemployment — February 2012" (HTML) (PDF), news release USDL-12-0663.