In September, 265 metropolitan areas recorded lower unemployment rates than a year earlier, 43 areas had higher rates, and 23 areas had rates that were unchanged, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. Twenty-five metropolitan areas registered jobless rates below 3.0 percent, with 12 of these located in the South and 8 in the Midwest. Seven areas posted unemployment rates of at least 10.0 percent; five of these were located in California, and the other two were along the Mexican border in other states. The national unemployment rate was 5.1 percent, not seasonally adjusted, in September.
Metropolitan Area Unemployment (Not Seasonally Adjusted)Ninety-nine metropolitan areas had jobless rates below 4.0 percent in September, up from 58 areas a year earlier, while 27 areas registered unemployment rates of at least 7.0 percent, down from 53 areas in September 2003. Bryan-College Station, Texas, again recorded the lowest jobless rate in September, 1.7 percent, followed by Fargo-Moorhead, N.D.-Minn., 2.0 percent, and Fort Walton Beach, Fla., 2.1 percent. This was the eighth consecutive month that Bryan-College Station had the lowest unemployment rate. Of the 25 areas with rates below 3.0 percent, more than one-third were home to large state universities. Yuma, Ariz., where summer jobless rates are roughly double those of the winter, again posted the highest unemployment rate, 27.8 percent. The next highest rate was recorded in Visalia-Tulare-Porterville, Calif., 12.8 percent.
In September, two areas in Texas located along the Mexican border experienced the largest over-the-year unemployment rate decreases, El Paso (-2.9 percentage points) and McAllen-Edinburg-Mission (-2.7 points). Eight additional areas reported jobless rate declines of at least 2.0 percentage points from last year. Ninety-one other areas had rate decreases of 1.0 percentage point or more over the same period. Punta Gorda, Fla., which sustained major damage from Hurricane Charley, registered the largest over-the-year jobless rate increase (+2.5 percentage points). The other areas with rate increases of at least 1.0 percentage point were Sumter, S.C. (+2.0 percentage points), Steubenville-Weirton, Ohio-W.Va. (+1.8 points), and Scranton--Wilkes-Barre--Hazleton, Pa. (+1.1 points).
Of the 51 metropolitan areas with a 1990 census population of 1 million or more, 48 areas reported lower jobless rates than in September 2003, 2 had no change, and 1 posted a slightly higher rate. Washington, D.C.-Md.-Va.-W.Va., and Orange County, Calif., continued to record the lowest unemployment rates among the large areas, 3.1 and 3.2 percent, respectively. Middlesex-Somerset-Hunterdon, N.J., and Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla., had the next lowest rates, 3.7 percent each. The highest jobless rates among the large areas were in Detroit, Mich., 6.7 percent, Portland-Vancouver, Ore.-Wash., 6.5 percent, and New York, N.Y., 6.4 percent. San Jose, Calif., again registered the largest over-the-year jobless rate decrease (-2.4 percentage points), followed by Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash. (-2.2 points), and Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, N.C.-S.C. (-2.0 points). Nineteen additional areas reported jobless rate declines of at least 1.0 percentage point. No large area experienced an over-the-year rate increase greater than 0.1 percentage point.