While the unemployment rate is not yet back to normal in most areas, improvement is unmistakable and fairly well-spread geographically.
Among the 27 metro areas reviewed, the Minneapolis area had the lowest unemployment rate, 5.1 percent in November, while Las Vegas continues to have the highest, at 12.5 percent in November. Both the Washington, DC and Boston areas had unemployment rates under 6 percent in November 2011.
Looking at changes in the last year, 26 large metro areas reviewed saw decreases, or improvement, in the unemployment rate. Among those reviewed, only the Chicago metro area saw an increase, or worsening, in the unemployment rate in that time period. By comparison, the unemployment rate in the US decreased by 1.1 percentage points in the year.
Las Vegas, NV had the greatest improvement in unemployment rate over the year. The unemployment rate there fell by 2.4 percentage points, from 14.9 percent to 12.5 percent. While Las Vegas saw an increase in the number of employed persons and a decline in the number of those unemployed, the balance was such that the labor force shrank slightly. By comparison, the US labor force was roughly unchanged in the same period.
Payroll job growth is pictured in the graphs that follow. Fifteen areas saw job gains in the month while 12 areas saw job losses. From one year ago, 23 metro areas have job gains.