As of December, the percentage of the U.S. labor force that did not have a job, had actively sought work in the four week period prior, and was currently available for work–and thus qualified for “unemployed” status–was 4.8%.
Forbes staffer Kathryn Dill notes that of the nearly 400 metropolitan areas, about half had unemployment rates above that 4.8% mark, and half below. Among the top five for lowest unemployment, Ames, Iowa, is followed mostly by midwestern cities, and, for the highest unemployment rates, California's highly conspicuous in its representation of cities. Dill writes:
El Centro, California holds the country’s highest unemployment rate, with 19.6% of the city’s workforce unemployed. Worth noting is that El Centro’s current unemployment has fallen a full three percentage points since this time last year, at which time Yuma, Arizona topped the unemployment ranking with staggering 23.1% unemployment. (Yuma falls to second highest unemployment, with 18%.)
Rounding out the five cities with the highest unemployment are Ocean City, New Jersey (12.3%), Visalia-Porterville, California (12.2%), and Merced, California (11.9%.)