NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The number of U.S. metropolitan areas with jobless rates above 15% increased in November, according to government figures released Tuesday, despite the biggest one-month drop in the national rate in more than three years.
The Labor Department said 17 of 372 metropolitan areas surveyed suffered unemployment rates of at least 15% last month, up from 15 metro areas in October.
National unemployment improved to a seasonally adjusted 10% in November from the 26-year high of 10.2% hit in October. The rate had climbed for 12 out of the previous 13 months before November. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com expect the national rate to edge up to 10.1% when the Labor Department releases its December jobs report Friday.
Three areas in Michigan posted jobless rates higher than 15%, including Detroit. The city wrecked by the collapse of the auto industry continued to lead the nation's areas of 1 million people or more with the highest unemployment rate in November at 15.4%.
California's Inland Empire, including Riverside, San Bernardino and Ontario, ranked second to Detroit among larger areas with an unemployment rate of 14.2% in November.
El Centro, Calif., held its place as the metropolitan area with the highest unemployment rate at 29.2%, down from an upwardly revised 31.9% in October.
The second highest rate was in Yuma, Ariz., at 21.1%, a drop from 23.3% in October.
Jobless rates were higher than 10% in 125 metropolitan areas in November, up from 123 in October.
Overall, 143 cities in the Labor Department report had unemployment rates above the non-seasonally adjusted national figure of 9.4%, while 229 reported jobless rates below it.
The three metro areas with the lowest unemployment rates in November were all in North Dakota, with Bismarck at 3.4%, followed by Fargo and Grand Forks at 3.7%.
Southwest pilots have been negotiating pay raises and improved contract terms with the airline for more than four years. Now, there's a sign the gridlock is ending. The union said Monday they've reached an 'agreement in principle.' More
Nearly 10,000 current and former Chipotle workers have joined a class action lawsuit alleging the company forced them to work 'off the clock' without pay. More
Chicago will begin tracking air quality, weather and road data to better inform government decisions. More
In 1998, Ntsiki Biyela won a scholarship to study wine making. Now she's about to launch her own brand. More
Following an order from the Department of Education to stop admitting students on federal financial aid, the for-profit technical school has stopped enrolling new students. More