C-U's jobless rate trails most Big Ten cities

C-U's jobless rate trails most Big Ten cities

The Champaign-Urbana metropolitan area's unemployment rate is lower than the national average but higher than most other Big Ten university communities.

C-U's February unemployment rate of 8.4 percent was lower than the U.S. rate of 9.5 percent.

But it was higher than rates for the metro areas of Iowa City, Iowa (4.7 percent); State College, Pa. (5.7 percent); Madison, Wis. (6 percent); Ann Arbor, Mich. (6.5 percent); Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn. (6.9 percent); Lafayette-West Lafayette, Ind. (7.5 percent); Bloomington, Ind. (7.6 percent); Columbus, Ohio (8.2 percent); and Lansing-East Lansing, Mich. (8.3 percent).

The only Big Ten university in a metro area with a higher unemployment rate than Champaign-Urbana in February was Northwestern University in Evanston, part of the Chicago metropolitan area (9.2 percent).

Champaign-Urbana's unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent in March, according to figures released Thursday by the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

But March statistics for metro areas nationwide have yet to be released, so it's too soon to say whether Champaign-Urbana caught up with any of its Big Ten rivals.

Nationally, the metro areas with the lowest unemployment rates in February were in the Great Plains, a region with slowly growing or declining populations.

Lincoln, Neb., home of the Big Ten's newest member, the University of Nebraska, had the lowest rate 4.2 percent followed by Bismarck, N.D., at 4.6 percent, and Ames, Iowa, and Fargo, N.D., matching Iowa City at 4.7 percent.

At the other end of the spectrum were 14 metropolitan areas with unemployment rates of 16.4 percent or more.

Twelve of those were in California (mostly the interior), and the other two were Yuma, Ariz. and Ocean City, N.J. The highest rate was in El Centro, Calif., at 26.9 percent.

The rankings of metro areas showed distinct variations state-to-state. In the Great Lakes region, Wisconsin tended to be best off, with Madison, LaCrosse, Oshkosh, Eau Claire, Appleton, Green Bay and Fond du Lac all having lower rates than Champaign-Urbana.

In Illinois, only Bloomington-Normal and Springfield had lower rates than Champaign-Urbana.

In Indiana, only Lafayette-West Lafayette, Bloomington, Evansville and Columbus had lower rates.

Statistics from economically hard-hit Michigan and Ohio illustrate how fortunate university communities are when it comes to unemployment.

In Michigan, the only metro areas with lower rates than Champaign-Urbana were Ann Arbor and Lansing-East Lansing. And in the Buckeye State, only one city Columbus had a lower rate.