Unemployment jumps in U.S. big cities
Joseph Wright | 8/4/2010, 5 p.m.
The unemployment rate in approximately 75 percent of large cities in the United States increased in June, as nearly 1 million teenagers entered the workforce looking for summer jobs.
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently reported that the jobless rate increased in 291 of 374 big cities in June, while at the same time decreasing in 55 areas and holding steady in 28. That is in contrast with the trend of the previous three months, when joblessness fell in most metropolitan areas.
However, the report did not adjust the June figures to take into account seasonal trends, such as high school or college students looking for work during the summer. Consequently, the figures tend to be volatile from month to month. But according to the University of California-Berkeley Labor Center, even with figures seasonally adjusted, three-fourths of the nation's major cities still experienced an increase in unemployment.
This happened despite the fact that the economic recovery has influenced some hiring, with private employers adding an average of 100,000 jobs each month so far this year. However, the rate of hiring slowed in May and June and is not nearly fast enough to bring down the unemployment rate, according to the DOL report.
According to Steven Pitts, labor policy specialist at the University of California Berkeley Labor Center, at the completion of June, the Black unemployment rate across the country was nearly double the national average at 15.4 percent. Whites' jobless rate was 8.6 percent.
"Blacks usually outnumber Whites two-to-one (regarding unemployment rates)," Pitts said.
"Going deeper inside the numbers, you find that 17.4 percent of Black men are unemployed.
Among Black women the percentage is 11.8. When adjusted seasonally to account for teens looking for summer jobs, we at the Labor Center have found that the Black teenage unemployment rate is 39.9 percent. Black teenage boys are unemployed at a rate of 43.2 (percent) and the Black girls are at 36.5 (percent)."
The government seasonally adjusts most of its economic indicators to reflect broader economic trends.
Most of the cities with the greatest increases in unemployment in June were college and university towns. Bismarck, North Dakota, where Bismarck State College is located, had the largest proportional increase in unemployment, increasing from three percent to 3.8 percent. Regardless, the city remained the metropolitan area with the lowest unemployment rate in the U.S.
Among cities with more than one million residents, Las Vegas reported the highest unemployment rate at 14.5 percent. That was up from 14.1 percent in May.
The unemployment rate in Los Angeles at the end of June was 12.2 percent. The situation is worse in the Antelope Valley: Palmdale's jobless rate is currently 15.2 percent; and Lancaster is at 17.1 percent in unemployment. Blacks in California are unemployed at a rate of 15 percent.
The Washington, D.C. area, bolstered by federal government hiring, reported the lowest unemployment rate among major cities at 6.4 percent. It was followed by Oklahoma City, which has benefited from the oil and gas industry, at 6.7 percent.
Posting the highest jobless rates in the nation were El Centro, Calif. and Yuma, Ariz., which have large populations of seasonal agricultural workers. El Centro's rate was 27.6 percent and Yuma's was 26.4 percent.