California is No Longer The Golden State

unemployment rateLooks like California is going to have to change its nickname from The Golden State to the Moldin' State if the unemployment situation there doesn't improve soon. Three areas in California registered the highest unemployment rates of anywhere in the nation in January. Those areas are: El Centro, 27.3 percent; Merced, 21.7 percent; and Yuba City, 20.8 percent, according to numbers recently released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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When it comes to Metropolitan Divisions, which are which are essentially separately identifiable employment centers within a metropolitan area, California loses again.

In January, the largest over-the-year employment decrease in the metropolitan divisions occurred in:

  1. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif. (-176,500)
  2. Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, Ill. (-149,900)
  3. New York-White Plains-Wayne, N.Y.-N.J.(-140,300)
  4. Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, Calif. (-72,100).

Even Michigan is Better Off

We've heard unemployment horror stories coming out of Michigan, but even that state can't beat out California when it comes to jobless numbers. The entire country is indeed suffering, as is indicated by the fact that in January, 187 metropolitan areas reported jobless rates of at least 10.0 percent, up from 86 areas a year earlier. But among the 35 areas with jobless rates of at least 15.0 percent, 15 were located in California and Michigan had the next highest number, at six.

Of course, California and Michigan are neck and neck when it comes to unemployment in 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 January, 15.6 and 15.0 percent, respectively.

Baby Why Don't We Go Down to Kokomo?

Kokomo and the Elkhart-Goshen area of Indiana can thumb their proverbial noses at California. These areas had the biggest jobless rate decreases in January, of between -3.6 and -4.1 percentage points. Also, you might not think that Fargo and Bismark, North Dakota North Dakota would rank above California in much other than annual snow fall, but the fact of the matter is that the areas surrounding those cities had the lowest unemployment rates in January of anywhere else in the country, at 4.8 and 4.9 percent, respectively.

So if anyone gives you that old Horace Greeley schpiel of "Go West, Young Man," you might want to think twice.

Next: 10 Companies Hiring NOW >>

Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell


Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award-winning multi-media journalist and author of Career Comeback--Repackage Yourself to Get the Job You Want.  Her work has been translated into 20 different languages, and she is a frequent expert guest and commentator on news and talk shows. She has been featured in The Wall St. Journal, on the CBS Early Show, NBC Today, CNBC, Fox Business News, Dr. Phil, and many other media outlets.  Lisa discusses her AOL pieces each week and interviews vital guests on the web TV show, This Week in Careers. Learn more on

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