Compared to a year prior, unemployment rates fell in 242 of 387 metropolitan areas this August, according to the monthly Metropolitan Area Employment and Unemployment report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Wednesday morning. The report presents labor force and unemployment data on a local level, with data compiled from Local Area Unemployment Statistics programs for 387 MSAs.

Among the 242 metropolitan areas where unemployment decreased, 14 had jobless rates of less than 3%, compared to a national average of 5.0%. The Sioux Falls, S.D., MSA snagged the lowest jobless rate with a rate of 2.1% in August. Closely behind are Fargo, N.D.-Minn., (2.3%), Bismarck, N.D., (2.5%), and Portsmouth, N.H.-Maine, (2.5%).

Three areas had rates of at least 10.0%, with Yuma, Ariz., claiming the highest jobless rate of 24.6%, closely followed by El Centro, Calif., (23.8%), and Visalia-Porterville, Calif., (10.7%).

Year-over-year, six MSAs (with three markets tied for fourth place) have achieved the most progress adding new jobs to the field. El Centro, Calif., which still suffers from a high jobless rate, has seen the rate decline by -3.1% from last year's 26.9% to 23.8% this August. Following the leading market is Grand Island, Nev., (-1.8%), Fayetteville, N.C., (-1.6%), Florence-Muscle Shoals, Ala., (-1.5%), New Bedford, Mass., (-1.5%), and Yuma, Ariz., (-1.5%).

In contrast, jobless rates have risen rapidly in five other MSAs, making the job market worse than a year ago. The unemployment rate in Casper, Wyo., increased 2.0% from last August's 4.8% to 6.8% in this month, followed by Farmington, N.M., (+1.9%), Odessa, Texas, (+1.8%), Erie, Pa., (+1.7%), and Blacksurg-Chirstianburg-Radford, Va., (+1.5%).

Read the full report on the BLS>>