15 percent jobless in 13 US cities: Report

June 4th, 2009 - 1:37 pm ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, June 4 (IANS) Thirteen American cities saw their unemployment rates topping 15 percent in April with nine of the highest in California alone. In another 93, joblessness climbed above 10 percent, according to a new government report.

Nine of the baker’s dozen are in California, a state ravaged by the housing meltdown and an unparalleled state budget crisis. By comparison, only seven cities reported unemployment rates above 10 percent in April 2008, the Labour Department said in its report released Wednesday.

April 2009 was the fourth consecutive month that unemployment rose in all of the nation’s 372 metropolitan areas compared with the same month in the previous year, the report said.

The Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS) releases monthly metropolitan-area data, lagging behind national unemployment statistics which this month showed the jobless rate was 8.9 percent in April. A new nationwide report for May comes out Friday.

The April report is slightly better than March’s survey, which said that 109 metropolitan areas reached unemployment rates of 10 percent or higher, with 18 of those at 15 percent or more. The data is not seasonally adjusted, and that could account for some of the difference, the BLS said.

El Centro, California, continued to have the highest rate of any metropolitan area at 26.9 percent. The town is located near the Mexican border and relies on agricultural employment, according to economists. As a result, the area’s jobless rate tends to rise and fall depending on the farming season.

For areas with one million or more residents, Detroit was the worst hit, posting a rate of 13.6 percent. Portland, Oregon, showed the largest increase, jumping to 11.6 percent from 4.7 percent in April 2008.

The least affected of the big cities was New Orleans, at 5.3 percent. At 3.2 percent, Iowa City, Iowa, reported the lowest overall rate in the country.

The number of metropolitan regions that had unemployment rates under 7 percent dropped sharply to 117 from 347 in April 2008. Only 31 areas reported unemployment rates below 5 percent in the current report.

A total of 33 metro areas registered unemployment rates that were at least 6 percentage points higher than a year ago, and another 44 areas’ increases were 5 to 5.9 percentage points.

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