John on December 30, 2010 at 10:22 am
A new survey of 372 metro areas carried out by a group called Buffalo Business First has found that about a third of them are experiencing there worst unemployment rates in at least a decade. Here are the Metro areas where unemployment is 12% or higher:
|Rocky Mount, NC||12.1|
|Naples-Marco Island, FL||12.2|
|Punta Gorda, FL||12.3|
|Carson City, NV||12.5|
|Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL||12.5|
|Muskegon-Norton Shores, MI||12.8|
|Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL||12.9|
|Port St. Lucie, FL||13.7|
|Las Vegas-Paradise, NV||14.1|
|Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA||14.2|
|Sebastian-Vero Beach, FL||14.2|
|Palm Coast, FL||15.5|
|Yuba City, CA||17.8|
|El Centro, CA||29.3|
The first thing that strikes me is how heavily concentrated the worst unemployment is. 22 of the 35 metro areas with the worst unemployment are either in California or Florida. Three of the remaining 13 are in Michigan. I created a Google Map so you could see it:
View Worst Unemployment in the US in a larger map
If you zoom in on California, you’ll see that most of the worst unemployment in the US today is in California’s central valley. Why there? I can’t improve on this recent description by author Victor Davis Hanson who owns a farm in the area:
These areas are the ground zero, so to speak, of 20 years of illegal immigration. There has been a general depression in farming — to such an extent that the 20- to-100-acre tree and vine farmer, the erstwhile backbone of the old rural California, for all practical purposes has ceased to exist.
On the western side of the Central Valley, the effects of arbitrary cutoffs in federal irrigation water have idled tens of thousands of acres of prime agricultural land, leaving thousands unemployed. Manufacturing plants in the towns in these areas — which used to make harvesters, hydraulic lifts, trailers, food-processing equipment — have largely shut down; their production has been shipped off overseas or south of the border. Agriculture itself — from almonds to raisins — has increasingly become corporatized and mechanized, cutting by half the number of farm workers needed. So unemployment runs somewhere between 15 and 20 percent.
Read all of what Hanson has to say and you’ll come away with the unsettling sense that many of these problems are of our own making. Indeed, there are probably three things President Obama could start doing today that would have a dramatic effect on this map: Control the border, turn on the water in the central valley, and prevent unions from negotiating any more devastating contracts like the ones that almost destroyed the nation’s auto industry.
Unfortunately, anyone who has been paying attention know that these are three things this President will never do. And so we sit with 9.8% unemployment nationwide, hoping the market can somehow overcome these bad choices.
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