Jobless rates rise in all U.S. cities in August

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Unemployment rates rose in all cities across the United States in August from a year earlier, with 16 recording jobless rates of 15 percent or higher, according to the Labor Department.

Attendees at a job fair line up for an interview carrying their resumes in leather bags in a Washington hotel, August 6, 2009. REUTERS/Jason Reed

At the same time, only 11 metropolitan areas said they had gained jobs in August, while 356 had lost positions.

For the eighth consecutive month, all 372 cities that the department surveys had year-on-year increases in jobless rates. The largest rise was in Detroit, where the rate rose by 7.9 percentage points, followed by its Michigan neighbor Muskegon, where it increased 7 percentage points.

Detroit also has the highest unemployment rate in the country at 17 percent.

But Los Angeles lost the most jobs in August from a year earlier, followed by Chicago and Detroit.

Looking at the data, the Associated General Contractors of America found that construction employment had dropped in 324 metropolitan areas over the year. Reno, Nevada, lost 35 percent of its construction workforce, it said, showing that the housing bust that has rattled most of the West still continues to damage construction employment.

“The problems facing the construction industry aren’t just devastating construction workers, they are crippling our broader economy,” said Stephen Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer in a statement.

The federal stimulus plan in February was intended to address the staggering construction job loss the country has experienced since home sales dropped and home building came to a near standstill.

But the contractors’ group said the package had not done enough and the country needs a new plan that will reverse its projections that construction payrolls continue to shrink through next year.

The U.S. nonfarm employment report on Friday should shed light on how much the stimulus helped put construction workers back to work, especially in the road repaving and infrastructure projects that dominated the $787 billion plan.

But the contractors said the city data for August shows that 13 areas saw a total increase in construction of 2,800 people over the course of the year, during half of which the stimulus was in effect. During the same time period, Sandherr said, the industry lost 1 million jobs.

Reporting by Lisa Lambert; Editing by James Dalgleish