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These Are the American Cities With the Highest (and Lowest) Unemployment

More than 23% of the Yuma metro area’s workforce was unemployed in Nov. 2014

Approximately 8.7 million U.S. jobs were lost during the Great Recession between 2007 and 2009. While all those jobs have been recovered, the nation’s unemployment rate remains above the level at the onset of the Recession and the recovery has not been consistent across the nation.

24/7 Wall St. examined the 25 lowest and 25 highest unemployment rates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Lincoln, Nebraska led the nation with an unemployment rate of just 2.1% in November, while the Yuma, Arizona metro area had the nation’s highest unemployment rate at 23.1%.

The Great Recession was accompanied by a steep decline in housing prices across the country. According to Martin Kohli, chief regional economist at the BLS, the best job markets weathered the housing crisis relatively well, while the areas with the highest unemployment rates were among the hardest hit when the bubble burst.

Click here to see the metro areas with the lowest unemployment rates

Click here to see the metro areas with the highest unemployment rates

In the metro areas with the lowest unemployment rates, housing prices fared better than the national average. On the other hand, median home prices in all of the worst job markets declined at a greater rate. In 10 of the 25 worst job markets, median home prices have fallen by at least 50% from their peak.

Many residents in the areas with struggling housing markets are unable to move away because of their home, which can contribute to a higher unemployment rates. According to Kohli, when homes are worth less than than the mortgage, homeowners cannot look for work in other areas because they cannot afford to sell their home.

In addition to resilient housing markets, residents in many of the best job markets are well educated. While 29.6% of American adults had completed at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2013, the rate was higher in a majority of the cities with lowest unemployment rates.

A major factor contributing to the high educational attainment rates is the presence of a major university. Thirteen of the metro areas with the lowest unemployment rates were also home to at least one large university. Kohli observed these universities contribute to higher educational attainment rates and are large employers in their own right.

Geographical location was also a distinguishing feature among the best and worst metro area job markets. Many of the areas with the lowest unemployment rates were clustered around the midwest and central United States, sites of the recent oil and gas development. The percentage of the workforce employed in the agricultural, forestry, fishing, and hunting, and mining industry exceeded the national share of 2.0% in 15 of the 25 best job markets.

According to Kohli, while the oil and fracking boom has subsided somewhat, the impact from the growth in the oil industry had a widespread effect. “Many areas in the country saw substantial job growth related to energy exploration,” he said, “and that generated additional demand for hotels and lodging services and a variety of other things in these areas.”

Interestingly, the metro areas with the worst job markets also had disproportionately high percentages of workers employed in the agricultural, forestry, fishing, and hunting, and mining industry. However, while the workers in many of the best job markets were far more likely to work in mining, the workers in some of the worst job markets, especially in inland California, were far more likely to be employed in agricultural positions, Kohli explained.

Fourteen of the 25 metro areas with the highest unemployment rates were located in inland California or Arizona, where there are high concentrations of farm jobs. However, the region’s ongoing severe drought conditions have taken a heavy toll on area economies. Most farming operations require enormous quantities of water, and when drought pervades agricultural output suffers and with it jobs.

To identify the best and worst job markets in the United States, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the metropolitan statistical areas (MSA) with the highest and lowest unemployment rates as of November 2014 from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Labor force changes also came from the BLS. Median household incomes, poverty rates, educational attainment rates, the percentage of households receiving SNAP benefits (food stamps), and the proportions of households earning less than $10,000 and more than $200,000 annually all came from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) and are for 2013, the latest period available. Workforce composition also came from the ACS. Quarterly median home prices since 2004 came from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).

These are the cities with the highest (and lowest) unemployment rates.

  • 24. Madison, WI

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 3.4%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 13.4%
    > 2013 median household income: $59,466
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 42.4%

    In November 2014, 3.4% of Madison Wisconsin’s workforce was unemployed, tied for the 24th lowest rate nationwide. By contrast, the national unemployment rate in November was 5.8%. As in many other metro areas with relatively low unemployment rates, Madison residents are well educated. More than 42% of adults in the area held at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2013, one of the higher rates compared with other metro areas.

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  • 24. Dubuque, IA

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 3.4%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 13.7%
    > 2013 median household income: $51,735
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 26.6%

    Strategically located at the junction of three states — Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin — Dubuque serves as a commercial, industrial, cultural, and educational hub. Like most U.S. metro areas, and strong metro job markets in particular, Dubuque’s largest employers are in the education and health sectors: the community school district, Mercy Medical Center, the University of Wisconsin Platteville, and Finley Hospital. Dubuque is also home to a major John Deere manufacturing plant and a large IBM facility. Dubuque’s 3.4% unemployment rate in November improved 0.2 percentage points from one year earlier.

  • 24. Rapid City, SD

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 3.4%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 14.5%
    > 2013 median household income: $48,641
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 24.5%

    A typical household in Rapid City earned less than $49,000 in 2013, lower than the national median household income of $52,250. However, the area’s job market is very strong, with an unemployment rate of just 3.4% in November. The low unemployment rate is due in large part to jobs generated by the regional oil boom. In 2013, 4.6% of Rapid City’s working population was employed in the agriculture, forestry, fishing, hunting and mining, one of the highest rates and more than twice the comparable national rate of 2.0%. As Kohli explained, regional oil booms can boost job growth in a variety of sectors in addition to the mining industry.

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  • 24. Morgantown, WV

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 3.4%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 19.2%
    > 2013 median household income: $47,051
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 32.5%

    Morgantown, the county seat of Monongalia County, had a modest 0.1 percentage point improvement in its unemployment rate from November 2013, as its labor force grew 2.0% over the same period. More than 31% of workers were employed in the education and health services industry, the highest share among industries in the area and among the higher such proportions nationwide. The concentration in the sector was led by Ruby Memorial Hospital and the Ruby Day Surgery Center.

  • 24. Burlington-South Burlington, VT

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 3.4%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 10.5%
    > 2013 median household income: $62,022
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 43.3%

    The strong job market in the Burlington-South Burlington metro area may have helped raise the health insurance coverage rate. Just 6.2% of Burlington area residents did not have health insurance in 2013, less than half the comparable national rate and one of the lowest figures among all metro areas. The Burlington-South Burlington metro area was home to the University of Vermont, which contributed to relatively high educational attainment rates and stimulated the region’s economy.

  • 21. State College, PA

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 3.3%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 19.8%
    > 2013 median household income: $53,207
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 41.7%

    Unlike most metro areas with the lowest unemployment rates, nearly one in five residents in the State College area lived in poverty in 2013, one of the highest poverty rates nationwide. The healthy economy may also have helped keep State College safe. There were 92.7 violent crimes reported per 100,000 people in the area in 2013, one of the lowest crime rates.

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  • 21. Amarillo, TX

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 3.3%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 16.0%
    > 2013 median household income: $49,207
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 23.4%

    Amarillo’s unemployment rate improved by 0.9 percentage points from November 2013 to November 2014, aided by a one percentage point drop in the city’s labor force. Government is a major employer in the city of Amarillo, which makes up a large portion of the metro area, through the local school district and city government. The city is also the home to Pantex, a key Department of Defense supplier, and to a major Tyson Foods facility.

  • 21. St. Cloud, MN

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 3.3%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 13.6%
    > 2013 median household income: $55,513
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 24.0%

    Along with a strong job market, St. Cloud residents are better-off financially than most Americans. The metro area’s median household income of $55,513 in 2013 was higher than the national figure of $52,250. Most metro areas with low unemployment rates weathered the housing crisis considerably better than most regions. However, in St. Cloud, median home prices fell 18.5% from the 2007 peak to the first quarter of last year, worse than the national home price drop during that time of 15.9%.

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  • 17. Fort Collins, CO

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 3.2%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 14.3%
    > 2013 median household income: $59,052
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 43.3%

    Fort Collins’s unemployment rate dropped 1.8 percentage points from November 2013, despite a 2.2 percentage point increase in the city’s labor force over the same period. The city is home to Colorado State University as well as many high tech companies, including Hewlett Packard, Intel, and AMD among others.

  • 17. Boulder, CO

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 3.2%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 13.9%
    > 2013 median household income: $71,604
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 58.5%

    Boulder is located at the base of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, 41 miles northwest of Denver. Home to the main campus of the University of Colorado, 58.5% of adults in the Boulder metro area had at least a bachelor’s degree, the highest percentage of any U.S. metro area and nearly twice the national figure. A relatively high 9.2% of households had annual incomes of $200,000 or more in 2013, ninth highest in the country.

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  • 17. Idaho Falls, ID

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 3.2%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 11.2%
    > 2013 median household income: $50,439
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 24.5%

    The November unemployment rate in most metro areas with strong job markets had not changed substantially from the previous year. The unemployment rate of 3.2% in Idaho Falls, however, improved 1.4 percentage points from the year before, slightly faster than the comparable national improvement. In addition, while most of the strongest job markets had high proportions of very wealthy households, 1.5% of households in Idaho Falls earned at least $200,000 in 2013, one of the lowest proportions nationwide.

  • 17. Salt Lake City, UT

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 3.2%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 12.4%
    > 2013 median household income: $61,520
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 31.2%

    As the capital of Utah, it is not surprising that state government heads the metro area list of largest employers in the Salt Lake City. Salt Lake City’s unemployment rate dropped 0.4 percentage points from November 2013 to November 2014, as its labor force contracted 0.5 percentage points. The metro area’s household income of $61,520 was roughly $9,000 higher than the national median income of $52,250 in 2013. Areas with low unemployment rates generally have relatively low violent crime rates. However, the violent crime rate in Salt Lake City was 356.6 per 100,000 residents, not much lower than the national rate of 367.9 violent crimes per 100,000 people.

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  • 16. Billings, MT

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 3.1%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 12.9%
    > 2013 median household income: $52,583
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 26.8%

    Billings is less than a half day drive to the Bakken Formation, the source of the regional oil boom. Nearly 4.0% of Billings’ workforce is employed in the agriculture, forestry, fishing, hunting, and mining industry, one of the higher shares nationwide. Partly as a result of the strong economy and job market in the area, median home prices remained roughly unchanged since 2007. By contrast, home prices across the country fell 15.9% over a similar period.

  • 14. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 3.0%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 10.3%
    > 2013 median household income: $67,194
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 39.3%

    The Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington metro area straddles the Mississippi River, but its major employers are not river-based and significantly diversified. Concentrations of government jobs can be found in St. Paul, the capital of Minnesota. The Mayo Clinic and Target stores are also major employers in the area. The area’s unemployment rate dropped 1.1 percentage points in the year ending November 2014, even though the labor force grew 0.9 percentage points over that time.

  • 14. Provo-Orem, UT

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 3.0%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 13.7%
    > 2013 median household income: $60,051
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 37.7%

    In addition to an unemployment rate of just 3.0%, Provo-Orem metro area residents had relatively high incomes and benefited from an exceptionally low violent crime rate. A typical household earned more than $60,000 in 2013, one of the highest median household incomes nationwide. There were also 70.2 violent crimes reported per 100,000 area residents in 2013, a lower rate than in all but five other metro areas reviewed.

  • 13. Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 2.9%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 12.7%
    > 2013 median household income: $55,382
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 33.4%

    Omaha-Council Bluffs may be the home of Warren Buffett, the Oracle of Omaha, but his company, Berkshire-Hathaway, does not appear on the city’s list of top 100 employers. Instead, the list is led by Offutt Air Force Base, with health care employers taking four of the next five slots. The fifth is the local public school system as nearly one-quarter of Omaha-Council Bluffs’ workforce is employed by the educational services and health care industry. The area’s median household income was just $55,382, versus the national median of $52,250.

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  • 12. Odessa, TX

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 2.8%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 14.6%
    > 2013 median household income: $55,710
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 13.8%

    The Odessa metro area is one of just 13 metro areas in the country where the unemployment rate was less than 3.0% this past November. Nearly 13% of the area’s workforce was employed in the agriculture, forestry, and mining industry, many times the national share of 2.0% in these jobs and one of the highest shares among metro areas. While jobs are readily available compared to other areas, many employment opportunities likely do not require very much education. Less than 14% of area adults held at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2013, nearly the lowest rate nationwide and less than half the comparable national educational attainment rate of nearly 30%. Odessa also had a reported violent crime rate of more than 800 incidents per 100,000 people, one of the highest in the country.

  • 11. Sioux Falls, SD

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 2.7%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 9.0%
    > 2013 median household income: $55,952
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 32.3%

    Like several other metro areas with especially strong job markets, Sioux Falls is among the areas that thrived as a result of the regional oil boom. Large drilling sites are not far from the metro area. However, the financial sector employed more than 13% of the workforce, more than twice the share nationwide and third highest among all metro areas. Sioux Falls’ economic growth has been primarily due to its location along major north-south and east-west interstate highways, according to The Economist.

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  • 8. Rochester, MN

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 2.6%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 7.9%
    > 2013 median household income: $62,645
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 35.3%

    The Rochester metro area had a poverty rate of 7.9% in 2013, nearly the lowest rate nationwide. Largely due to Rochester’s unemployment rate of just 2.6%, the median household income was $62,645 in 2013, one of the higher figures in the nation. In addition, like most strong job markets, more than one-third of adults had at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2013, also one of the higher proportions.

  • 8. Grand Forks, ND-MN

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 2.6%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 15.4%
    > 2013 median household income: $50,891
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 27.4%

    Education and health services are a major reason for low unemployment in Grand Forks, employing a large share of the workforce. The metro area is also home to Grand Forks Air Force Base, a driver for the local economy, such as the retail trade sector, which employs about 13.6% of the workforce. Grand Forks’ unemployment rate improved 0.4 percentage points from November 2013 to November 2014. While Grand Forks shed payroll jobs during the recession, it had recovered all those jobs and more since the recession ended.

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  • 8. Iowa City, IA

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 2.6%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 15.6%
    > 2013 median household income: $52,220
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 48.6%

    Iowa City’s unemployment rate of 2.6% improved by 0.1 percentage points from a year ago, even though the region’s labor force jumped 3.3% over the same period. Iowa City is the home of the ACT testing service, which provides standardized tests for college-bound high schoolers, and is the seventh largest employer in the region. The University of Iowa is the area’s largest employer, along with related health care organizations such as the university’s hospital. Education and health-related industries employed 41% of Iowa City’s workforce, the second highest such share in the country, topped only by Ithaca, NY.

  • 5. Logan, UT-ID

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 2.5%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 14.6%
    > 2013 median household income: $47,377
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 35.9%

    The Logan metro area’s labor force grew 1.6% over the year through November of last year, and the unemployment rate dropped slightly over that period. The area is home to Utah State University, which is also a major employer in the region. In addition, like many other metro areas with strong job markets, a major source of oil and natural gas is located nearby.

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  • 5. Ames, IA

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 2.5%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 23.5%
    > 2013 median household income: $50,279
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 48.2%

    Ames residents are among the best educated — as measured by high school graduation rate — of all metro areas. At the same time, the area is one of only a few strong job markets with a median household income lower than the national median. As with most of the top 28 regions, the Ames metro area’s education, health and social service industry employed a larger proportion of the workforce than the national share in 2013 — 38% compared with 23%, nationally. Of the area’s top eight employers, six are in those fields, led by Iowa State University, Mary Greeley Medical Center, and McFarland Clinic.

  • 5. Bismarck, ND

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 2.5%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 8.3%
    > 2013 median household income: $64,626
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 30.5%

    The unemployment rate in Bismarck rose by 0.3 percentage points from November 2013 to November 2014. The only other strong metro area job market to show an increase was the Burlington metro area. Bismarck’s labor force grew by 3.9% during that time. The area boasted the 21st highest household income of all metros, at $64,626, nearly 24% higher than the national average of $52,250 in 2013. Also, just 5.6% of households used food stamp benefits, the fourth lowest rate among all metro areas.

  • 4. Midland, TX

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 2.3%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 9.3%
    > 2013 median household income: $71,442
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 27.3%

    Located at the heart of the regional oil boom, Midland residents have enjoyed sustained economic growth for nearly a decade. Nearly 19% of the area’s workforce was employed in the agriculture, forestry and mining industry, the third highest share compared to other metro areas. Housing prices in the area were at their peak at the beginning of last year, while most other metro area housing markets were still far behind 2007 levels. The median household income of $71,442 in 2013 was also nearly the highest nationwide. Despite the strong job market and healthy economy, nearly 24% of residents did not have health insurance in 2013, one of the highest rates in the country.

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  • 2. Mankato-North Mankato, MN

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 2.2%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 16.7%
    > 2013 median household income: $53,047
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 28.8%

    The Mankato metro area is located along where the Minnesota River meets the Blue Earth River in the southern third of the state. As a college town — hosting a major campus of the University of Minnesota — Mankato’s economy is focused on education and healthcare. The area’s unemployment rate dropped a full percentage point from November 2013 to November 2014 even as its labor force grew 2.7%. In addition to a low unemployment rate, only 6.6% of the area’s population did not have health insurance in 2013, the 13th lowest rate in the country.

  • 2. Fargo, ND-MN

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 2.2%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 13.9%
    > 2013 median household income: $51,961
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 35.3%

    Just 2.2% of Fargo’s workforce was unemployed in November, down slightly from the year before. The region’s labor force also grew 3.8% over that period, among the fastest growth rates nationwide. As in other metro areas in and around North Dakota, Fargo’s healthy economy is largely due to the regional oil and natural gas boom.

  • 1. Lincoln, NE

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 2.1%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 15.5%
    > 2013 median household income: $52,300
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 36.3%

    Lincoln boasts the lowest unemployment rate of any metro area in the country, down 0.9 percentage points from one year earlier when it had the seventh lowest unemployment rate of all metro areas. Lincoln’s improvement came despite a 2.5% increase in the labor force over the same period. Government — not counting education — employs the second-largest share of the workforce in Lincoln, the capital of Nebraska. The area’s education sector, including the University of Nebraska, is also a major driver of employment in the area. B&R Stores, an 18-unit food store chain, is the area’s largest private employer.

    Click here to see the metro areas with the highest unemployment rates

  • 24. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 8.0%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 18.2%
    > 2013 median household income: $53,220
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 20.1%

    While less than 6.0% of the nation’s workforce was unemployed in November, 8.0% of the Riverside-San Bernardino metro area’s workforce was out of work, tied for the 24th highest unemployment rate compared with all metro areas. As in other weak job markets, and particularly those in California, the Riverside area was hit especially hard by the housing crisis. As of the first quarter of last year, home values had fallen 51.4% from their peak in 2007. The national decline in median home prices during that time was less than 16%.

  • 24. Lake Havasu City-Kingman, AZ

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 8.0%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 21.2%
    > 2013 median household income: $39,058
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 11.3%

    More than one in five workers in the Lake Havasu City-Kingman metro area was employed in the arts, entertainment, recreation and accommodation and food services industry, the fourth highest share compared to other metro areas and more than twice the share nationally. The high concentration of these traditionally low-paying jobs is due in part to the area’s reliance on tourism. A typical household earned less than $40,000 in 2013, one of the lowest median household incomes compared with other U.S. metro areas.

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  • 22. Danville, IL

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 8.1%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 19.3%
    > 2013 median household income: $45,089
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 13.9%

    While Danville had one of the highest unemployment rates among metropolitan areas as of November, it also recorded the fourth best yearly improvement in unemployment, with its unemployment rate dropping 4.1 percentage points from November 2013. Danville faces a significant education gap, with just 86.2% of its adult residents holding a high school diploma or higher and just 13.9% holding at least a bachelor’s degree, both among the lowest educational attainment rates compared to all metro areas.

  • 22. Rockford, IL

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 8.1%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 15.5%
    > 2013 median household income: $48,027
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 21.0%

    Rockford’s unemployment rate improved 3.3 percentage points from November 2013 to November 2014, fifth best of all metropolitan areas. Very few socioeconomic measures seem to be positive for Rockford. Its violent crime rate of 711.1 incidents per 100,000 residents was in the bottom quintile of all metro areas. Nearly 23% of Rockford’s workforce was employed by the manufacturing industry, one of the highest such proportions in the nation. Employment in the industry fell dramatically in 2009 and 2010, and has made only a modest recovery since.

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  • 22. Redding, CA

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 8.1%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 20.1%
    > 2013 median household income: $40,332
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 17.3%

    Just slightly over one of six Redding adults had a bachelor’s degree or higher as of 2013 — 318th out of 358 metros. The residents’ low educational attainment may have contributed to the area’s high unemployment rate. At the same time, the median household income was $40,332, 317th out of 358 metro areas. In 2013, 16.5% of residents did not have health insurance.

  • 19. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 8.2%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 34.3%
    > 2013 median household income: $35,098
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 16.2%

    Like many metro areas with relatively high unemployment rate, McAllen faces the challenge of low educational attainment. Just 61.5% of McAllen area residents had completed at least high school, the lowest rate of any of the 358 metro areas. Only 16.2% of residents had a bachelor’s degree or higher as of 2013, also one of the worst rates. The weak education among residents pervaded other aspects of McAllen’s economic life. The metro had the highest rate of households receiving food stamps, the highest rate of individuals without health insurance and the highest percentage of residents living below the poverty line. Only three metro areas had a lower median household income in 2013.

  • 18. Dalton, GA

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 8.3%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 21.8%
    > 2013 median household income: $37,659
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 12.2%

    Dalton is home to many of the nation’s floor covering manufacturers and therefore suffered as home building slowed with the recession. The metro’s unemployment rate, which had been below 5% from 2004 until the onset of the Great Recession in 2007, jumped to double digit rates and only recently has begun to recover. The jobless rate improved a full percentage point from November 2013 to November 2014. The region remains impoverished: 19.5% of households received food stamps, 23.1% of individuals had no health insurance, and 21.8% of individuals lived below the poverty line.

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  • 17. Salinas, CA

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 8.5%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 17.9%
    > 2013 median household income: $57,052
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 22.2%

    The hometown of Nobel Prize author John Steinbeck, Salinas had one of the highest unemployment rates in the country in November 2014 despite improving 0.6 percentage points from November 2013. In the same period, the area’s labor force grew 0.6%. Salinas had one of the highest shares of agricultural jobs. In fact, it is one of seven metro areas with the highest unemployment rates to have a relatively high concentration of agricultural jobs, suggesting the lingering drought in California may have contributed to the high unemployment.

  • 16. Longview, WA

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 8.8%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 14.5%
    > 2013 median household income: $48,417
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 15.6%

    Longview’s unemployment rate shot up with the onset of the Great Recession, more than doubling from 6.3% in 2007 to 14.1% two years later. The area currently has the third highest share of other services jobs and the lowest share of jobs in the arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food service industry. Only 15.6% of adult residents had at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2013, nearly the lowest attainment rate of all metro areas.

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  • 16. Yakima, WA

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 8.8%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 20.8%
    > 2013 median household income: $41,917
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 15.5%

    While the national job market and the vast majority of metropolitan areas improved from November 2013 to November 2014, this was not the case in Yakima. The metro area’s unemployment rate of 8.8% rose 1.6 percentage points, one of the largest increases in the country. As in many other areas with high unemployment rates, Yakima residents struggle with poverty. Nearly 21% of area residents lived in poverty in 2013, one of the highest rates. More than 15% of the workforce was employed in the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and mining industry, considerably higher than the national share of just 2.0%.

  • 14. Vineland-Bridgeton, NJ

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 9.2%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 20.6%
    > 2013 median household income: $45,978
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 13.7%

    The Vineland metro areas had the 10th lowest college attainment rate in the country, at 13.7% of adults. The region has struggled with relatively high unemployment rates for roughly five years. In an effort to stimulate the local economy in 2006, portions of Vineland were designated Urban Enterprise Zones. Sales taxes are reduced for retailers in these zones. Despite the metro area’s otherwise difficult labor struggles, the retail trade sector employed almost 14% of the area’s workforce, the 49th highest share among 358 metros.

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  • 13. Bakersfield, CA

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 9.6%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 22.8%
    > 2013 median household income: $46,879
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 14.4%

    The Bakersfield metro area is located in the San Joaquin Valley, a major source of agricultural products for both California and the rest of the nation. More than 17% of the area’s workforce was employed in the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and mining industry, nearly the highest such share in the country. The drought afflicting California and surrounding areas has not helped Bakersfield’s economy. Nearly one in 10 area workers were unemployed, and nearly 23% of residents lived in poverty, both among the highest rates nationwide in 2013.

  • 12. Stockton-Lodi, CA

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 10.7%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 19.9%
    > 2013 median household income: $51,432
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 17.2%

    Like most areas with struggling job markets, roughly one in five Stockton-Lodi metro area residents lived in poverty in 2013, one of the highest rates nationwide. There were also more than 700 violent crimes reported in Stockton per 100,000 residents in 2013, one of the highest rates nationwide. As of the first quarter of last year, the median home price in the Stockton metro area had fallen nearly 80% from the peak of well over $1 million in the second quarter of 2006.

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  • 12. Modesto, CA

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 10.7%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 22.1%
    > 2013 median household income: $47,962
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 16.0%

    The Modesto metro area’s unemployment rate of 10.7% in November had actually improved 1.4 percentage points from the previous year, a slightly faster improvement than the national change. As in many areas in California, however, Modesto was hit especially hard by the housing crisis and is a long way from full recovery. The median home price fell more than 80% from its peak in the first quarter of 2006, nearly the worst housing price decline among all metro areas.

  • 12. Madera, CA

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 10.7%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 23.6%
    > 2013 median household income: $39,758
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 13.0%

    Twenty-three percent of Madera’s workforce was employed in the agriculture, forestry, fishing and mining industry in 2013, the highest such proportion nationwide. As in most California metro areas with the highest unemployment rates, the bulk of the sector’s employees were agricultural workers, and with the severe drought conditions throughout the region, Madera’s workforce is far from healthy. Nearly 11% of workers were unemployed, and nearly 24% of residents lived in poverty in 2013, both among the highest rates. In addition, nearly 19% had no health insurance, one of the higher rates in the country.

  • 9. Fresno, CA

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 11.2%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 28.8%
    > 2013 median household income: $43,925
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 19.8%

    Poor educational attainment rates among Fresno residents partly contributed to the region’s high unemployment rate of 11.2%. Less than three-quarters of adults had completed at least high school, and less than one in five adults held at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2013, both among the lowest proportions nationwide. Fresno’s poverty rate of nearly 29% was also one of the worst in the country. Like many California metro areas, Fresno relies heavily on agriculture, and the industry has suffered from the drought afflicting the region. Nearly one in 10 members of the workforce was employed in the agriculture, forestry, fishing and mining industry, one of the higher proportions in the country.

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  • 8. Atlantic City-Hammonton, NJ

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 11.3%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 18.0%
    > 2013 median household income: $52,127
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 23.5%

    Nearly 28% of workers in the Atlantic City-Hammonton metro area were employed in the arts, entertainment, recreation and accommodation and food services industry in 2013, the second highest such proportion nationwide. Many of these workers were likely employed in the various casinos and resorts in the region. Alongside Atlantic City’s shrinking popularity as a tourist destination, however, its labor force shrank by nearly 4% from November 2013 to November 2014, nearly the largest decline. Widespread casino closings in the area account in part for the downturn. And while a shrinking labor force can open job opportunities, the metro area’s unemployment rate of 11.3% in November had increased slightly from the year before.

  • 7. Hanford-Corcoran, CA

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 11.7%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 21.4%
    > 2013 median household income: $45,774
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 12.9%

    With severe drought conditions afflicting California and the surrounding region, the high concentration of farm jobs in the Hanford-Corcoran area — 17.5% of the workforce — can largely account for the poor economic climate. More than 21% of residents lived in poverty, one of the highest rates, and less than 13% of area adults held at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2013, among the lowest rates nationwide. These weak economic indicators can also partly explain the high unemployment rate of nearly 12% in November.

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  • 6. Yuba City, CA

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 12.1%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 18.7%
    > 2013 median household income: $46,773
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 17.0%

    The Yuba City metro area’s economy is especially weak. While unemployment rates fell across the nation and in most metro areas, Yuba City’s November unemployment rate of 12.1% increased 4.5 percentage points from the year before, nearly the worst increase in the country. The area’s labor force also shrank by 1.5% over that period, one of the worst declines. As in many other poor metro job markets, median home prices in the area fell by nearly 58% from their peak in 2006, one of the larger drops among all metro areas.

  • 5. Merced, CA

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 12.2%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 25.2%
    > 2013 median household income: $40,687
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 13.5%

    Poor educational attainment rates frequently account in part for high unemployment rates. While nearly 30% of adults nationwide held at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2013, only 13.5% of Merced residents did so, one of the lowest educational attainment rates. The poor job climate has also likely made getting out of poverty more difficult for many people. More than one in four area residents lived in poverty in 2013, one of the highest poverty rates nationwide. Merced’s housing market was also obliterated during the period leading up to the national crisis. Median home values in the beginning of last year had plummeted 94% from their peak in the middle of 2006.

  • 4. Visalia-Porterville, CA

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 12.3%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 30.1%
    > 2013 median household income: $39,422
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 13.3%

    Like many other weak job markets in California, Visalia-Porterville residents were relatively poor. A typical household earned less than $40,000 in 2013, one of the lowest median household incomes nationwide. Partly as a result, nearly 26% of households in the area relied on food stamps in 2013, nearly the highest such rate nationwide. While such government subsidies likely helped in providing relief for many families living in poverty — the poverty rate of 30.1% was nearly twice the national rate of 15.8% — it also reflects a weak economy. More than 12% of the area’s workforce was unemployed in 2013, versus the national November unemployment rate of 5.8%.

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  • 4. Ocean City, NJ

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 12.3%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 9.4%
    > 2013 median household income: $60,560
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 33.7%

    Unlike the vast majority of other metro areas with poor job markets, Ocean City metro area residents were relatively well-off financially and benefited from a low poverty rate and strong educational attainment rates. The median household income of $60,560 in 2013 was among the higher figures, and the poverty rate of less than 10% was substantially better than the national rate of nearly 16%. And while less than 30% of American adults had completed at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2013, nearly 34% of Ocean City adults had done so, an exceptionally high proportion given the high unemployment rate of 12.3% in November.

  • 2. El Centro, CA

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 22.7%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 22.1%
    > 2013 median household income: $43,310
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 12.7%

    El Centro is one of only two metro areas where more than one in five workers were unemployed in November. As in many other California metro areas, El Centro’s job market has a relatively high concentration of agricultural positions. While 2.0% of the U.S. workforce worked in the agricultural, forestry, fishing and mining industry, 8.7% of El Centro’s workforce were employed in the sector, one of the higher proportions. In addition, the metro area has yet to make anywhere close to a full recovery from the housing crisis. As of the beginning of last year, the area’s median home price had fallen 56.3% from the peak in 2007. By contrast, median home prices across the country fell 15.9% over a similar period.

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  • 1. Yuma, AZ

    > 2014 November unemployment rate: 23.1%
    > 2013 poverty rate: 17.8%
    > 2013 median household income: $41,666
    > 2013 pct. with bachelor’s degree: 13.9%

    More than 23% of the Yuma metro area’s workforce was unemployed in November of last year, the highest unemployment rate among all U.S. metro areas. Compared to the previous November, the unemployment rate had also increased 9.3 percentage points, by far the worst change in the nation and over a period when unemployment across the nation improved. Less than 14% of adults in the area had completed at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2013, one of the lowest educational attainment rates nationwide and a partial explanation for the metro area’s abysmal job market. Despite the increase and poor job climate, the size Yuma’s labor force remained flat from November 2013 to November 2014.

    Click here to see the metro areas with the lowest unemployment rates

    For the original list, please go to 24/7WallStreet.com.

    Read next: Employers Add 295,000 Jobs as Economy Keeps Rolling

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