The Most Miserable Cities In America

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Photo: Flickr/Éole

U.S. job creation is near a four-year high and the national unemployment rate is down to 8.1 per cent in March from 9.2 per cent a year ago.However, labour market conditions are markedly worse in many corners of the country.

We combed through the latest BLS employment report to put together the major metropolitan areas with the highest unemployment rate within each state.

Combine this with weak wage growth and inflation at around 2 per cent and you get a sense misery in America.

There’s a concept in economics called the “misery index,” developed by economist Arthur Okun.  The idea is that the combination of unemployment rate and inflation rates makes for an accurate measure of local misery. 

Assuming that inflation rates are generally constant across the country, we identified the most miserable cities based on unemployment rate.

States likely include smaller cities with higher unemployment rates that were not captured in this particular data set.

Note: All data is for March 2012 and data is preliminary. The unemployment rate is calculated as a per cent of the labour force of the city.

Mobile, Alabama

Mobile

per cent unemployed:
8.4%

No. unemployed:
15,900

Alabama

per cent unemployed:
7.3%

No. unemployed:
155,900

Source: BLS

Fairbanks, Alaska

Fairbanks

per cent unemployed:
7.2%

No. unemployed:
3,400

Alaska

per cent unemployed:
7.9%

No. unemployed:
28,800

Source: BLS

Yuma, Arizona

Yuma

per cent unemployed:
23.8%

No. unemployed:
20,400

Arizona

per cent unemployed:
8.4%

No. unemployed:
253,900

Source: BLS

Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Pine Bluff

per cent unemployed:
9.3%

No. unemployed:
4,100

Arkansas

per cent unemployed:
7.4%

No. unemployed:
103,100

Source: BLS

El Centro, California

El Centro

per cent unemployed:
26.2%

No. unemployed:
20,100

California

per cent unemployed:
11.5%

No. unemployed:
2.12 million

Source: BLS

Pueblo, Colorado

Pueblo

per cent unemployed:
10.7%

No. unemployed:
8,100

Colorado

per cent unemployed:
8.2%

No. unemployed:
223,300

Source: BLS

Waterbury, Connecticut

Waterbury

per cent unemployed:
10.8%

No. unemployed:
11,000

Connecticut

per cent unemployed:
8.1%

No. unemployed:
153,800

Source: BLS

Dover, Delaware

Dover

per cent unemployed:
7.2%

No. unemployed:
5,500

Delaware

per cent unemployed:
7.1%

No. unemployed:
31,300

Source: BLS

Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, District of Columbia

Washington-Arlington-Alexandria*

per cent unemployed:
5.5%

No. unemployed:
176,400

District of Columbia

per cent unemployed:
9.9%

No. unemployed:
34,300

*Note: This metro area includes cities that aren't in the District of Columbia

Source: BLS

Palm Coast, Florida

Palm Coast

per cent unemployed:
12.2%

No. unemployed:
4,100

Florida

per cent unemployed:
8.6%

No. unemployed:
792,600

Source: BLS

Dalton, Georgia

Dalton

per cent unemployed:
11.6%

No. unemployed:
7,000

Georgia

per cent unemployed:
8.9%

No. unemployed:
422,900

Source: BLS

Honolulu, Hawaii

Honolulu

per cent unemployed:
5.7%

No. unemployed:
26,400

Hawaii

per cent unemployed:
6.4%

No. unemployed:
42,400

Source: BLS

Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

Coeur d'Alene

per cent unemployed:
10.3%

No. unemployed:
7,600

Idaho

per cent unemployed:
8.6%

No. unemployed:
66,900

Source: BLS

Rockford, Illinois

Rockford

per cent unemployed:
11.7%

No. unemployed:
19,400

Illinois

per cent unemployed:
9.0%

No. unemployed:
589,300

Source: BLS

Michigan City-La Porte, Indiana

Michigan City-La Porte

per cent unemployed:
10.7%

No. unemployed:
5,300

Indiana

per cent unemployed:
8.6%

No. unemployed:
274,700

Source: BLS

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Cedar Rapids

per cent unemployed:
6.0%

No. unemployed:
8,500

Iowa

per cent unemployed:
5.7%

No. unemployed:
95,000

Source: BLS

Wichita, Kansas

Wichita

per cent unemployed:
7.8%

No. unemployed:
23,800

Kansas

per cent unemployed:
6.6%

No. unemployed:
98,900

Source: BLS

Louisville-Jefferson County, Kentucky

Louisville-Jefferson County

per cent unemployed:
9.0%

No. unemployed:
57,200

Kentucky

per cent unemployed:
9.0%

No. unemployed:
184,700

Source: BLS

Monroe, Louisiana

Monroe

per cent unemployed:
7.6%

No. unemployed:
6,200

Louisiana

per cent unemployed:
7.0%

No. unemployed:
144,600

Source: BLS

Lewiston-Auburn, Maine

Lewiston-Auburn

per cent unemployed:
8.2%

No. unemployed:
4,800

Maine

per cent unemployed:
8.3%

No. unemployed:
58,100

Source: BLS

Salisbury, Maryland

Salisbury

per cent unemployed:
9.3%

No. unemployed:
5,900

Maryland

per cent unemployed:
6.7%

No. unemployed:
207,700

Source: BLS

New Bedford, Massachusetts

New Bedford

per cent unemployed:
10.0%

No. unemployed:
8,600

Massachusetts

per cent unemployed:
6.4%

No. unemployed:
220,400

Source: BLS

Detroit-Warren-Livonia, Michigan

Detroit-Warren-Livonia

per cent unemployed:
9.6%

No. unemployed:
190,300

Michigan

per cent unemployed:
9.0%

No. unemployed:
417,500

Source: BLS

Duluth, Minnesota

Duluth

per cent unemployed:
7.7%

No. unemployed:
11,100

Minnesota

per cent unemployed:
6.5%

No. unemployed:
193,400

Source: BLS

Pascagoula, Mississippi

Pascagoula

per cent unemployed:
9.5%

No. unemployed:
6,900

Mississippi

per cent unemployed:
8.7%

No. unemployed:
115,000

Source: BLS

St. Louis, Missouri

St. Louis

per cent unemployed:
8.4%

No. unemployed:
120,200

Missouri

per cent unemployed:
7.9%

No. unemployed:
238,700

Source: BLS

Missoula, Montana

Missoula

per cent unemployed:
6.9%

No. unemployed:
4,000

Montana

per cent unemployed:
7.0%

No. unemployed:
35,000

Source: BLS

Omaha-Council Bluffs, Nebraska

Omaha-Council Bluffs

per cent unemployed:
4.7%

No. unemployed:
21,500

Nebraska

per cent unemployed:
4.2%

No. unemployed:
41,900

Source: BLS

Carson City, Nevada

Carson City

per cent unemployed:
12.4%

No. unemployed:
3,400

Nevada

per cent unemployed:
11.9%

No. unemployed:
162,500

Source: BLS

Rochester-Dover, New Hampshire

Rochester-Dover

per cent unemployed:
5.6%

No. unemployed:
4,800

New Hampshire

per cent unemployed:
5.6%

No. unemployed:
41,100

Source: BLS

Ocean City, New Jersey

Ocean City

per cent unemployed:
15.8%

No. unemployed:
8,700

New Jersey

per cent unemployed:
9.3%

No. unemployed:
424,500

Source: BLS

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Albuquerque

per cent unemployed:
7.4%

No. unemployed:
29,500

New Mexico

per cent unemployed:
7.0%

No. unemployed:
64,800

Source: BLS

New York City, New York

New York City

per cent unemployed:
9.8%

No. unemployed:
388,700

New York

per cent unemployed:
8.7%

No. unemployed:
829,200

Source: BLS

Rocky Mount, North Carolina

Rocky Mount

per cent unemployed:
12.8%

No. unemployed:
9,100

North Carolina

per cent unemployed:
9.6%

No. unemployed:
445,000

Source: BLS

Grand Forks, North Dakota

Grand Forks

per cent unemployed:
5.0%

No. unemployed:
2,700

North Dakota

per cent unemployed:
3.8%

No. unemployed:
14,500

Source: BLS

Steubenville-Weirton, Ohio

Steubenville-Weirton

per cent unemployed:
11.2%

No. unemployed:
6,200

Ohio

per cent unemployed:
7.8%

No. unemployed:
451,300

Source: BLS

Bend, Oregon

Bend

per cent unemployed:
12.3%

No. unemployed:
9,800

Oregon

per cent unemployed:
9.2%

No. unemployed:
183,300

Source: BLS

Scranton—Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

Scranton--Wilkes-Barre

per cent unemployed:
9.2%

No. unemployed:
26,200

Pennsylvania

per cent unemployed:
7.7%

No. unemployed:
493,400

Source: BLS

Providence-Fall River-Warwick, Rhode Island

Lewiston-Auburn*

per cent unemployed:
11.6%

No. unemployed:
79,900

Maine

per cent unemployed:
11.8%

No. unemployed:
65,200

*Note: This metro area includes cities that aren't in Rhode Island

Source: BLS

Myrtle Beach-North Myrtle Beach-Conway, South Carolina

Myrtle Beach-North Myrtle Beach-Conway,

per cent unemployed:
10.3%

No. unemployed:
13,100

South Carolina

per cent unemployed:
8.7%

No. unemployed:
186,400

Source: BLS

Rapid City, South Dakota

Rapid City

per cent unemployed:
4.9%

No. unemployed:
3,200

South Dakota

per cent unemployed:
4.9%

No. unemployed:
21,700

Source: BLS

Clarksville, Tennessee

Clarksville

per cent unemployed:
8.6%

No. unemployed:
9,900

Tennessee

per cent unemployed:
8.1%

No. unemployed:
248,200

Source: BLS

McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas

McAllen-Edinburg-Mission

per cent unemployed:
10.7%

No. unemployed:
34,500

Texas

per cent unemployed:
7.0%

No. unemployed:
876,400

Source: BLS

St. George, Utah

St. George

per cent unemployed:
7.9%

No. unemployed:
4,400

Utah

per cent unemployed:
6.2%

No. unemployed:
83,000

Source: BLS

Burlington-South Burlington, Vermont

Burlington-South Burlington

per cent unemployed:
4.2%

No. unemployed:
4,800

Vermont

per cent unemployed:
5.3%

No. unemployed:
19,000

Source: BLS

Danville, Virginia

Danville

per cent unemployed:
8.3%

No. unemployed:
4,400

Virginia

per cent unemployed:
5.7%

No. unemployed:
247,500

Source: BLS

Longview, Washington

Longview

per cent unemployed:
12.0%

No. unemployed:
5,200

Washington

per cent unemployed:
8.8%

No. unemployed:
308,400

Source: BLS

Wheeling, West Virginia

Wheeling

per cent unemployed:
8.0%

No. unemployed:
5,400

West Virginia

per cent unemployed:
7.4%

No. unemployed:
58,900

Source: BLS

Janesville, Wisconsin

Janesville

per cent unemployed:
9.2%

No. unemployed:
7,200

Wisconsin

per cent unemployed:
7.5%

No. unemployed:
229,600

Source: BLS

Cheyenne, Wyoming

Cheyenne

per cent unemployed:
6.7%

No. unemployed:
3,100

Wyoming

per cent unemployed:
5.9%

No. unemployed:
18,100

Source: BLS

Guayama, Puerto Rico

Guayama

per cent unemployed:
21.3%

No. unemployed:
5,400

Puerto Rico

per cent unemployed:
14.9%

No. unemployed:
190,200

Source: BLS

Now here are the industries causing the job losses...

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