Job gains appear to be widespread as 95 percent of large U.S. cities saw jobless rates fall in September. All told, the U.S. Labor Department reported declining unemployment rates in 355 of 372 major metropolitan areas, the most since April. Almost half of these areas also have unemployment rates below 7 percent while those with rates above 10 percent fell to 35, down from 84 in September 2011.
The reported noted that much of the declines were likely due to the rise in school-related employees who returned to work in September. Many of the hardest hit cities have seen falling unemployment rates over the past year. For example, Las Vegas’ September rate was 11.5 percent. And while still very high, it was down from 14 percent over the year. Additionally, the Miami metro area was down 2 percent over the year from 10.4 percent to 8.4 percent, and the Cleveland metro area fell from 7.5 percent in September 2011 to 6.5 percent last month.
However, even cities with already low unemployment rates have experienced rate drops over the past year. Des Moines, Iowa has a current rate of 4.5 percent compared with 5.6 percent last year. Most cities in Virginia and New Hampshire also recorded jobless rates far below the national average. This nationwide trend helped the national unemployment rate fall to 7.8 percent in September, mostly due to an influx of part-time jobs and a jump in the number of people dropping out of the labor market.