Severe unemployment eases in cities

By Annalyn Censky, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Fewer cities reported severe unemployment in February, according to a government report released Wednesday.

There were 29 metropolitan areas that reported unemployment rates at or above 15% in February, down from 35 in January, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

California and Michigan continue to report the hardest hits, as they have for months. Of the cities with jobless rates of 15% or more, 13 were in California and four were in Michigan.

Among metro areas with populations of 1 million or more, Detroit reported the highest jobless rate at 15.3%, while Riverside, Calif., was second at 14.7%.

Meanwhile, New Orleans, Oklahoma City and Washington, D.C., had the lowest jobless rates among the big cities, all reporting rates below 7%.

El Centro, Calif., which is highly affected by seasonal agriculture jobs, continued to post the highest unemployment rate at 27.2%, followed by two other mid-sized agricultural areas in California: Merced at 22.1% and Yuba City at 21.6%.

The Labor Department's Metropolitan Area Employment and Unemployment Summary breaks out unemployment rates by city and lags the nationwide jobs report by about a month.

The Labor Department's latest national report, released on Friday, showed the U.S. economy gained 162,000 jobs in March, more than any other month in the last three years. The unemployment rate remained stubbornly high, holding steady at 9.7%. To top of page

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