Florida jobless snapshot: Many are getting very good at waiting in some very long lines
Wake up and good morning. Sure, we know Florida and the Tampa Bay jobless scene is in the toilet. But where are we in relation to the rest of the country's metro areas? If you don't know how everybody else is doing out there, how can you tell which way you are trending?
Check out this photo (above, left) of the line of applicants last month in Tampa during a job fair for an urban renewal project called Encore. The turnout was triple what organizers expected. (Photo: John Pendygraft, St. Petersburg Times.) Or this second photo (by AP, right), of job seekers earlier this year lining up to register at a City of Miami job fair in Miami. Or the third photo (bottom, left) of a job fair in St. Petersburg (Photo: Kathleen Flynn, St. Petersburg Times)
New Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers out this week shed some light. Let's boil the data down:
* Unemployment rates were higher in February than a year earlier in Tampa Bay and 346 other metro areas out of 372monitored by the BLS. Jobless rates were down in 21 areas, and unchanged in four areas. Nationally, 29 areas recorded jobless rates of at least 15.0 percent (we're not that bad off in Tampa Bay), while two areas registered rates below 5.0 percent.
* In February, 187 metropolitan areas reported jobless rates of at least 10.0 percent, up from 99 areas a
year earlier, while 42 areas posted rates below 7.0 percent, down from 86 areas in February 2009. Three areas in California again registered the highest unemployment rates: El Centro, 27.2 percent; Merced, 22.1 percent; and Yuba City, 21.6 percent.
* Among the 29 areas with jobless rates of at least 15.0 percent, 13 were located in California and 4 were in Michigan. Fargo, N.D.-Minn., and Lincoln, Neb., registered the lowest unemployment rates in February, 4.6 and 4.9 percent, respectively.
* Of 49 metro areas with a Census 2000 population of 1 million or more, Detroit-Warren-
Livonia, Mich., and Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif., reported the highest unemployment rates in February, 15.3 and 14.7 percent, respectively. Twenty-two additional large areas posted rates of 10.0 percent or more. The large areas with the lowest jobless rates in February were New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, La., 6.5 percent; Oklahoma City, Okla., 6.7 percent; and Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Va.-Md.-W.Va., 6.9 percent.
* Forty-eight of the large areas registered over-the-year unemployment rate increases, the largest of which occurred in Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev. (+3.6 percentage points). Three areas in Florida reported the next largest rate increases: Jacksonville, Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, and Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater (+3.3 percentage points each). Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minn.-Wis., was the only large area to post a rate decrease over the year (-0.3 percentage point).
-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist