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Fargo, Bismarck have nation's lowest jobless rates

Labor Department data has Bismarck with the�lowest July unemployment�rate�at 3.1 percent. The�next-lowest rates are Fargo and�Rapid City.
/ Source: KVLY-TV

The country's largest metropolitan areas were evenly split in July between those where unemployment rates rose from June and those where rates fell. A month earlier, by contrast, 90 percent of the 380 metro areas saw their jobless rates rise from the previous month.

An Associated Press analysis of Labor Department data found that July unemployment rates fell in 168 metro areas and rose in 168 others. No change was recorded in the remaining 44 areas.

The figures are not adjusted for seasonal trends, such as the hiring and firing of farmworkers, so they tend to be volatile. And some of the drops were too small to indicate larger trends.

Most of the bright spots on the unemployment map are in the upper Midwest. Bismarck had the lowest jobless rate in July, at 3.1 percent, down from 3.8 percent in June. The next-lowest rates were in Fargo and in Rapid City and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The region has benefited from prices for farm commodities that remain above historical trends.

The unemployment rate of 30.2 percent in El Centro, Calif., was the highest in the nation. The area has suffered high unemployment due to seasonal farm workers.

Among larger metro areas, the Detroit area had the highest unemployment rate, at 17.7 percent, up from 17.1 percent in June.