Unemployment rates fell in two-thirds of large U.S. metro areas in July, which some see as a sign of widespread improvement in the job market. However the local Madera-Fresno area continued to rank near the bottom of the nation with a slight downward trend.
The Labor Department said Wednesday that unemployment rates fell in 239 of the nation’s 372 largest cities in July from June. Rates rose in 103 and were virtually unchanged in 30.
The Madera-Chowchilla area ranked 354 out of 372 regions in the nation with a rate of 11.3 — a decline in rank and rise in unemployment compared to June. The Fresno metro area fared worse than its neighbor or itself a month before. It maintained the same near-bottom rank of 361 but its unemployment increased slightly from 12.3 to 12.5 percent.
Fewer cities are reporting such high unemployment rates. Forty-one cities reported a rate above 10 percent last month, down from 67 a year earlier.
The U.S. unemployment rate fell last month to a 4 1/2-year low of 7.4 percent. That’s down from 7.6 percent in June. Employers added 162,000 jobs. That’s enough to lower the unemployment rate but below the average monthly gain of 192,000 this year.