Cities’ jobs picture is a mixed bag
As the nation’s jobs picture brightens, the prospects for America’s cities remain somewhat mixed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). There is good news, as the vast majority of cities report lower unemployment rates than a year ago. But many of the nation’s biggest cities continue to languish — more than one-third of large metropolitan areas have jobless rates higher than the national average.
The latest jobs report showed improvement across several private sector categories, including professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and manufacturing. The national unemployment rate dropped to 8.3 percent in January from 9.1 percent a year ago.
Cities shared in that uptick. Unemployment rates were lower than a year earlier in 329 of 372 metropolitan areas, according to BLS. Additionally, the bureau says, “239 metropolitan areas reported over-the-year increases in nonfarm payroll employment.” Twenty-four metros – including Bismarck, N.D., Madison, Wis., Amarillo, Texas and Columbia, Mo. – registered unemployment rates of less than 5 percent.
But the fly in the ointment: Government employment “changed little,” the bureau says, meaning it continued to fall. The public sector, including local and state government, lost 276,000 jobs over the past 12 months.
That good news/bad news is reflected in the unemployment figures for metropolitan areas with populations of 1 million or more. Of 49 large metros, 46 reported over-the-year decreases in the unemployment rate. Several had rates lower than the national average, including Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minn.-Wis., and Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Va.-Md.-W.Va., both at 5.5 percent, and Columbus, Ohio, at 6.4 percent.
But 18 large metros had unemployment rates higher than the national average, with seven areas posting rates of 10 percent or more, including Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla., and Providence-Fall River-Warwick, R.I.-Mass. The highest unemployment rates were registered in Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev., 12.7 percent, and Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif., 12.2 percent.