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News In Brief

The best and worst cities for jobs

Jaclyn Giovis Mar 3, 2011

The U.S. Labor Department will release its February jobs report on Friday. And that got us thinking about – location, location, location. The popular mantra is relevant to job seekers in today’s sluggish economy, as some people have a harder time finding a job than others simply because of where they live.

The department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics recently analyzed the unemployment situation in metropolitan areas nationwide for December 2010, the month with the most current data available. Here’s a snapshot of the best and worst places to live, based on non-farm payroll employment.

Best: Metro areas with the biggest year-over-year increase in employment – ranging from 17,000 new workers to 57,500 – were:

  • Washington, D.C.-Arlington-Alexandria

  • Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington

  • Boston-Cambridge-Quincy

  • Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale

  • Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington

Worst: These metros saw the largest decreases in employment:

  • Chicago-Joliet-Naperville

  • San Francisco- Oakland-Freemont

  • Detroit-Warren-Livonia

  • Kansas City

  • Sacramento-Ardent-Arcade-Roseville

Another major economic indicator is the unemployment rate. Of the 372 metros included in the government’s December 2010 study, 238 held lower unemployment rates in December 2010 than they did during the same period in 2009, while 115 metro areas had higher unemployment rates. Only 19 metro areas were unchanged.

The employment numbers and unemployment rate don’t always add up to a clear picture. Detroit, for example, saw a decrease in the number of workers, but its unemployment rate improved. That may be because long-term unemployed workers might have become discouraged and quit searching, so they aren’t counted in the survey. It’s hard to know all of the factors at play and the numbers only tell part of the story.

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