A Case Study in Umemployment: El Centro

It might be the back corner (geographically) of California, but El Centro is still a part of this state. And, many would argue, it is a very important part. Inquiring minds are reading an article entitled, “America’s Worst Job Market: What 27.6% Unemployment Looks Like” and are speechless. This is the USA. How did we get to a point where a metro area has over a quarter of its workers unemployed?

El Centro, Calif., is the largest U.S. city to be situated entirely below sea level. At the moment, it’s also home to the country’s most underwater job market. Nationally, the unemployment rate sits at 9.5 percent. But in the El Centro metropolitan area, it’s a staggering 27.6 percent.

A quick recent history:

In El Centro, unemployment has always been a concern. Notably, in the past decade, the area’s jobless rate has never dropped below 12 percent. But when the economy soured during the recession, El Centro’s unemployment rate surged, rising from 15.3 percent at the beginning of 2007 to 31.3 percent by the middle of last year as the housing market crumbled.

Did you catch that first statistic? “the area’s jobless rate has never dropped below 12 percent.”??? During the greatest boom this state and country has maybe ever had, El Centro had 12% unemployment.

The entire article is very worth the time invested.


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