Is Your City Among the 7 Worst for Job Seekers?

By Damian Davila on 6 February 2015 0 comments

America, I have some good news and some bad news.

First, the good news. Back in December 2012, the unemployment rate stood at 8%. Fast forward two years, and the current unemployment rate has hit a record low of 5.6%.

The bad news is that despite the general positive outlook in the job market, there are still several cities with poor job prospects. Here are the seven worst cities for job seekers in 2015.

1. Spokane, Washington

A survey of 18,000 U.S. employers puts Spokane, Washington at the top of 100 metropolitan areas with the weakest job outlooks. This would be the second year in a row that Spokane's job market remains depressed. The unemployment rate consistently decreased throughout all of 2014, and forecasts indicate that the trend will continue.

Another reason for the low job growth in Spokane is the aftermath of holiday hiring. Retailers hire lots of temps during Q4 ,and then scale back during Q1 and Q2.

2. Portland, Oregon

Standing at number two in the same survey is Portland, Oregon. The net employment outlook is a puny 2% — much slower than that of the rest of the nation. While there is growth in certain industries, there are several others, such as professional and business services, wholesale trade, and private education that are cutting back in jobs.

3. San Bernardino, California

After analyzing the strength of 150 of the most populous U.S. cities' job markets, a report puts San Bernardino, California at the bottom of the list for 2015. The same report also puts the city among the top five with the highest unemployment rate for people with bachelor's degrees or greater. San Bernardino Mayor Carey Davis isn't surprised about his city's low ranking, because of the city's bankruptcy and financial woes. In 2012, the city of about 210,000 residents filed for bankruptcy protection citing more than $1 billion in debts. The city continues to struggle with low tax revenue, high unemployment, and a poor housing market.

4. Detroit, Michigan

In the same 150-city report, Detroit, Michigan is third from the bottom. The Motor City also ranks among those with the lowest number of job opportunities, the highest unemployment rates for workers with a bachelor's degree or higher, and the lowest median annual income (adjusted for cost of living). Detroit's job woes are the result of a big, systemic problem: its unemployed lack the skills employers need.

The only sector showing job growth is the temporary help sector. This isn't encouraging, because in 2013 the average temp employee in Michigan earned $25,872, which is 48% below the average worker's wage.

5. Honolulu, Hawaii

There's trouble in paradise. As a long time resident of Honolulu, I know that the main employers in the city are the government (local, state, federal, and military jobs) and the hospitality sectors. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the outlook of jobs in both sectors remains unpromising.

While Hawaii's unemployment rate is often lower than the national rate, this statistic is misleading because it doesn't reveal how many people have to work multiple part-time jobs to make ends meet. Honolulu's lower salaries are victims of what Hawaii residents refer to as "beach tax." To make matters worse, Honolulu has the lowest housing affordability in the nation.

6. Hialeah, Florida

It seems like cities with warmer climates tend to fare not well in job market lists. Not only does Hialeah, Florida have a high unemployment rate for high school graduates (13.3%), but also a high unemployment rate for residents with bachelor's degree or higher (9.7%). Of the 150 most populous U.S. cities, Hialeah has the fourth lowest median annual income (adjusted for cost of living at $27,966).

Since Hialeah's formal economy doesn't offer many openings, some economic researchers point out that people are forced to create their own jobs in the city's informal sector.

7. Newark, New Jersey

Also cited as having one of the highest unemployment rates for high school and college graduates is Newark, which holds the further distinction of having the lowest median annual income (adjusted for cost of living). This means that Newark's median annual income is three times smaller than that of cities with the highest ones.

The Brick City's financial woes are adding more pressure to the already small salaries workers endure. To complicate matters even more for job seekers, Newark is second only to Honolulu in housing affordability. The site Wallet Hub has been particularly hard on Newark by including at the top of lists of cities with the highest percentage of needy population, the unhappiest cities, the worst places to retire, and the worst cities to start a business.

How is the job market in your city this year?

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