jobsRecently determined unemployment rates in the 372 metropolitan areas reveal a general downward trend during November 2011, with only 16 areas reporting rate increases, and five areas remaining unchanged over the year. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that eight metropolitan areas experienced unemployment rates above 15 percent while 25 areas recorded rates below 5 percent. Nonfarm payroll employment increases were recorded in 239 metropolitan areas for the month, 127 areas experienced nonfarm payroll employment declines, and six remained unchanged.

Over the year, the number of metropolitan areas reporting unemployment rates over 10 percent dropped from 112 to 58 areas. Areas experiencing unemployment rates in the sub-seven percent range rose from 65 areas in November 2010 to 129 areas in November 2011. The highest unemployment rates for the month were recorded in El Centro, California and Yuma, Arizona, reporting rates of 27.2 percent and 23.7 percent, respectively. The remaining metropolitan areas with rates above 15 percent were Merced, Yuba City, Fresno, Modesto, and Stockton, California.

The lowest unemployment rates were recorded in Bismarck, North Dakota, measuring at 2.8 percent. The next lowest rates were found in Lincoln, Nebraska (3.2 percent), and Fargo, North Dakota (3.1 percent). Despites its place atop the list of highest unemployment rates, El Centro, California also registered the largest over-the-year rate decrease in November, falling 3.7 percent. Five other metro areas experienced decreases over 3 percent and another 48 areas saw rate declines over 2 percent. The largest over-the-year unemployment rate increase occurred in Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, Washington, recording a jump of 1.2 percent.

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