Fewer metro areas suffer 10% unemployment

The government says the number of metropolitan areas with jobless rates of at least 10% decreased in August.

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By Ben Rooney, CNNMoney.com staff reporter

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The number of U.S. metropolitan areas with jobless rates above 10% decreased in August, according to government figures released Wednesday.

The Labor Department said 129 of 372 metropolitan areas surveyed suffered unemployment rates of at least 10% last month. That was down from 139 metro areas in July.

The number of urban centers with unemployment rates above 15% fell to 16 from 19 the month before.

The national unemployment was 9.7% in August. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com expect the national rate to rise to 9.8% when the Labor Department releases its September jobs report Friday.

Overall, 141 areas in the Labor Department report had unemployment rates above the national figure, while 227 reported jobless rates below it and 4 areas had the same rate.

Wednesday's report suggests that "there's no real change in the big picture," for the U.S. job market, said Brian Hannon, an economist at the Bureau of Labor Statistics."The low rate areas are the same and high rate areas are the same."

El Centro, Calif., had the highest unemployment rate of any metro area at 28.7%. But that was down from 30.5% in July.

The second highest rate was in Yuma, Ariz., where unemployment toped 26.1% in August. Both El Centro and Yuma are urban centers near agricultural areas that experience extreme heat, which impacts the workforce there, the Labor Department said.

The metro area with the lowest unemployment rate in August was Bismarck, N.D., at 3.3%. That was followed by Fargo, N.D., at 4.1% and Rapid City, S.D., at 4.2% unemployment.

Among the metro areas with rates above 15%, seven were in California and four were in Michigan.

In cities with at least 1 million inhabitants, the greater Detroit area reported the highest jobless rate at 17%, but that was down from 17.7% in July. California's Inland Empire, including Riverside, San Bernardino and Ontario, had the second highest rate at 14.5%.

The large cities with the lowest unemployment rates in August were the area around Washington, D.C., with 6% unemployment, and Oklahoma City, at 6.1%.  To top of page

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