Washington Area Unemployment Over 6 Percent

Unemployment in the Washington metro area was 6.1 percent in February, up from 5.6 percent in January and 3.2 percent in February of 2008. It was the first time the local unemployment rate went over 6 percent since at least 1990, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers. The labor force did continue to grow, however, gaining 4,500 jobs from the previous month.

Unemployment rates were higher in all 372 metro areas, according to the BLS, and it was over 15 percent in 14 of them. The national unemployment rate in February, not seasonally adjusted, was 8.9 percent. El Centro, Calif., had the highest unemployment rate, at 24.5 percent, and Houma-Bayou Cane-Thibodaux, La., had the lowest, at 3.5 percent. The biggest increase came in Elkhart-Goshen, Ind., at 12.5 percentage points.

Of the metro areas with more than 1 million people, the lowest unemployment rates were in the New Orleans and Oklahoma City areas, at 5.3 percent and 5.6 percent. Highest: Detroit and Riverside, Calif., at 13.6 percent, and 12.2 percent. All 49 of the large metro areas recorded unemployment increases of at least 1.9 percent points from February to February.

Check out How to Survive a Layoff at www.washingtonpost.com/laidoff.

By Terri Rupar  |  April 1, 2009; 11:13 AM ET  | Category:  Economy Watch
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