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Severe unemployment worsens in cities

By Hibah Yousuf, staff reporter

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%.

Large cities with the lowest jobless rates were New Orleans and the Washington, D.C. metro areas, each at 6.1%. Oklahoma City followed close behind with an unemployment rate of 6.4%. To top of page

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