government buildingsRecently, the U.S. Labor Department reported that unemployment rates fell in 333 of the 373 largest metro areas in March, equating to almost 90 percent of large U.S. cities. But most of these declines are assumed to have occurred due to workers dropping out of the workforce rather than becoming employed. And while the unemployment rate fell from 7.7 percent to 7.6 percent in March, this was largely because people gave up on their job searches. Hiring actually shrunk considerably in March as employers added only 88,000 jobs for the month.

One positive indication of a slowly improving job market includes a rise in metro areas with unemployment rates of 7 percent and below. Though 44 cities have consistently exhibited unemployment rates at or above 10 percent, this number is down from 113 in March 2012. Those metro areas with the largest decline between February and March were Blacksburg-Christiansburg, VA, falling from 7 percent to 5.6 percent. The second largest drop occurred in Florence-Muscle Shoals, AL, falling from 7.7 percent to 6.4 percent. Other over-the-month winners include Panama City-Lynn Haven, FL, Myrtle Beach, SC, and Springfield, IL.

Those metro areas with the biggest unemployment increases were Baton Rouge, LA, rising from 5.5 percent to 5.8 percent over the month and Bowling Green, KY, rising from 7.4 percent to 7.8 percent. The lowest unemployment rate was found in Midland, Texas at 3.1 percent. The highest unemployment rate was found in Yuma, AZ at 26 percent which plays host to a large population of migrant farm workers.


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