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Urban unemployment grows

By Blake Ellis, staff reporter

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The number of U.S. metropolitan areas with jobless rates above 15% increased in December, according to government figures released Tuesday.

The Labor Department said 19 of 372 metropolitan areas surveyed posted unemployment rates of at least 15% last month, up from 17 metro areas in November. The metro area figures were not seasonally adjusted.

The seasonally adjusted national unemployment rate was 10% in December, unchanged from the previous month. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com expect the national rate to remain steady at 10% when the Labor Department releases its December jobs report Friday.

Twelve areas in California suffered jobless rates higher than 15%, including El Centro. The city continued to lead the nation's metropolitan areas with the highest unemployment rate in December at 27.7%.

The second highest rate was in Merced, Calif., at 19.8%, a rise from 18.3% in November.

Out of the cities with populations of 1 million people or more, Detroit-Warren-Livonia, Mich. had the highest level of unemployment, at 14.9%, followed by Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. with a rate of 14%.

Large cities with the lowest jobless rates were Oklahoma City, with a rate of 6% and Washington-Arlington-Alexandria in the District of Columbia region, which posted a rate of 6.2%.

The metro area with the lowest unemployment rate in December was Fargo, N.D., at 4%, followed by Grand Forks, N.D., and Lincoln, Neb., each at 4.1%.

Jobless rates were higher than 10% in 138 metropolitan areas in December, up from 125 in November.

Overall, 146 cities in the Labor Department report had unemployment rates above the non-seasonally adjusted national figure of 9.7%, while 221 areas reported jobless rates below it.  To top of page

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