Jobless rates rise in all big metro areas-WEB ONLY

Unemployment rates rose in all of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas for the third straight month in March, with Indiana’s Elkhart-Goshen region once again logging the biggest gain.

The Labor Department reported today that all 372 metropolitan areas tracked saw jobless rates move higher last month from a year earlier. Elkhart-Goshen’s rate soared to 18.8 percent, a 13 percentage-point increase. It was the fourth-highest jobless rate in the country.

The Indiana region has been hammered by layoffs in the recreational vehicle industry.

As previously announced, the Indianapolis metropolitan area’s non-seasonally adjusted rate jumped a half-percentage point, to 8.7 percent. The number of unemployed in the area leapt from 73,088 in February to 77,462 in March – a jump of 4,374.

Non-seasonally adjusted figures are most accurately compared with the same month in prior years. Joblessness in the Indianapolis area was 4.7 percent in March 2008, meaning the region saw its rate nearly double in one a year.

The jobless rate jumped to 17 percent in Bend, Ore., a 9.2 percentage-point rise and the second-biggest monthly gainer. Rounding out the top three was North Carolina’s Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton area, which saw its unemployment rate rise to 15.4 percent last month, an increase of 9.1 percentage points.

The regions highlight damage inflicted by the recession. Fallout has been especially pronounced in the manufacturing, construction and retail industries, which have suffered heavy layoffs.

El-Centro, Calif., continued to lay claim to the highest unemployment rate – 25.1 percent. The jobless rate there is notoriously high because there are so many unemployed seasonal agriculture workers.

Following close behind were Merced, Calif., with a jobless rate of 20.4 percent, and Yuba, Calif., at 19.5 percent.

The national unemployment rate soared to 8.5 percent, a quarter-century high, in March.

In the metro unemployment report, the government said 18 regions registered jobless rates of at least 15 percent. Meanwhile, 15 regions had rates below 5 percent. Both Ames, Iowa, home of Iowa State University, and the Louisiana region of Houma-Bayou-Cane-Thibodaux had the lowest unemployment rates, at 3.6 percent each.

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