The Other Border Crisis: El Centro, Calif. (16.7%) and Yuma, Ariz. (16.3%) Lead Nation in Unemployment

( – The surge of migrants seeking to cross the southwest border into the United States is not the only crisis that this country is seeing along that border: It is also the site of the metropolitan areas that have the highest unemployment rates.

The El Centro, Calif., metropolitan area led the nation with an unemployment rate of 16.7 percent in November, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That was 4.9-times greater than the national unemployment rate, which was just 3.4 percent in November.

The city of El Centro sits about 13 miles north of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol station on the border between Calexico, Calif., and Mexicali, Mexico.

The Yuma, Ariz., metropolitan area had the nation’s second highest unemployment rate—16.3 percent—in November. Yuma sits in the southwest corner of Arizona–just north and east of the Mexican border.


“Yuma, AZ, had the largest over-the-year rate increase in November (+5.0 percentage points),” said BLS.

Six of the remaining positions in the Top Ten metro areas with the highest unemployment rates are situated in California’s Central Valley—the state’s primary agricultural region.

These include Visalia-Porterville, which ranks third with an unemployment rate of 8.5 percent; Merced, which ranks fourth with an unemployment rate of 7.2 percent; Hanford-Corcoran, which is tied for fifth (with Yakima, Washington) with an unemployment rate of 6.9 percent; Bakersfield, which ranks seventh with an unemployment rate of 6.8 percent; Fresno, which ranks eighth with an unemployment rate of 6.6 percent; and Yuba City, which is tied for tenth (with Madera, Calif.) with an unemployment rate of 6.3 percent.

The Texas border metro area of McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas rounds out the top 10—coming in ninth with an unemployment rate of 6.4 percent.

By contrast, the metropolitan areas with the nation’s lowest unemployment rates in November were far from the southern border. In fact, three of them were in North Dakota, another three were in Minnesota, and yet another was in South Dakota.

The metros with the lowest unemployment rates included: Fargo, North Dakota which ranked first with an unemployment rate of 1.5 percent; Mankato, Minnesota, and Rochester, Minnesota, which tied for second with an unemployment rate of 1.6 percent; Sioux Falls, South Dakota, which placed fourth with an unemployment rate of 1.7 percent.

Bismarck, North Dakota; Columbia, Missouri; Grand Forks, North Dakota and Logan, Utah, all tied for fifth with an unemployment rate of 1.8 percent.

And Billings, Montana; Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota; and Provo-Orem, Utah, all tied for ninth with an unemployment rate of 1.9 percent.


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