Unemployment fell below 7 per cent in most US cities in November, suggesting steady job gains are benefiting most parts of the country.
The government said on Tuesday that the unemployment rate fell in November from October in 215 of the 372 largest metro areas. Unemployment was unchanged in 33 areas and rose in 124.
Unemployment dropped below seven per cent in 192 cities. That's the first time since the recession ended that more than half of large cities had an unemployment rate below that threshold. And 52 were below five per cent.
Major metropolitan areas with low unemployment in November included: Oklahoma City, 4.5 per cent; New Orleans, 4.7 per cent; Boston, 5.6 per cent; and Phoenix, 6.5 per cent.
Nationwide, the unemployment rate ticked down to 7.8 per cent in November from 7.9 per cent the previous month. That occurred mostly because more Americans out of work gave up looking for jobs and were not counted as unemployed.
Employers added jobs in nearly three quarters of metro areas in November compared with the same month a year ago.
The job gains are compiled from a survey of company payrolls and unemployment numbers come from a survey of households.
The drop in unemployment will probably be reversed in the coming months because temporary workers hired by retailers, shipping companies and other employers are likely to be laid off. Unlike the national data, the metro unemployment rates are not adjusted for seasonal trends and tend to be more volatile from month to month.
There are still pockets of high unemployment, but they are dwindling. In November, 29 cities reported unemployment rates of 10 per cent or higher. That's down from 35 in October and much lower than 68 cities a year ago.
Yuma in Arizona (27.5 per cent) and El Centro in California (26.6 per cent) reported the highest unemployment. The two cities have high concentrations of migrant farm workers.