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Twin Cities only large metro area in U.S. to show unemployment-rate decline

The greater Twin Cities unemployment rate dipped from 8 percent in February of 2009 to 7.7 percent in February of 2010, making it the only large metro area in the country to post an improvement in unemployment, according to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics study released Friday.

The 48 other large metropolitan areas with a population greater than 1 million all registered year-over-year unemployment rate increases over that period. The largest jobless rate increase hit Las Vegas (3.6 percentage points). In Florida, three large metropolitan areas reported the next largest rate increases: Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater (3.3 percentage points each).

As previously reported here, the February jobless numbers for all of Minnesota’s metropolitan areas broke a more than three-year slide. With the exception of Mankato, which was flat, all the metropolitan areas posted year-over-year improvements in jobless rates. St. Cloud registered the largest decline, dropping 1.3 points to 8.4 percent. Duluth posted the highest unemployment rate at 9.1 percent, down half a percent from February 2009. Nevertheless, the state’s workforce shrank by 62,000 over that period as part-time and discouraged workers fell out of the official unemployment rate.

Neighboring Fargo-Moorhead and Grand Forks-East Grand Forks also showed declines and continue to enjoy the lowest metro area unemployment rates in the nation.

Among all of the nation’s 372 metropolitan areas, unemployment rates were higher in February than a year earlier in 347 areas, lower in 21 areas, and unchanged in four areas.

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Farmington, N.M., registered the largest jobless rate increase from February 2009 (5 percentage points). The areas with the next largest rate increases were Steubenville, Ohio (4.8 percentage points); Decatur, Ill., and Yuma, Ariz. (4.5 points each); and Rockford, Ill. (4 points). All five of these areas experienced job losses in the goods-producing sector over the year. Thirty additional metropolitan areas recorded jobless rate increases of 3 percentage points or more.

Elkhart-Goshen, Indiana, reported the largest over-the-year jobless rate decrease in February (3.8 percentage points). Three other areas posted rate decreases of at least 1 percentage point.

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