(CN) - Unemployment rates were lower in March than a year earlier in 270 of the 387 metropolitan areas, higher in 98 areas, and unchanged in 19 areas, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.
Ten areas had jobless rates of less than 3.0 percent and 11 areas had rates of at least 10.0 percent.
Nonfarm payroll employment increased over the year in 332 metropolitan areas, decreased in 51 areas, and was unchanged in 4 areas.
The national unemployment rate in March was 5.1 percent, not seasonally adjusted, down from 5.6 percent a year earlier.
According to the agency, Ames, Iowa, and Sioux Falls, S.D., had the lowest unemployment rates in March, 2.4 percent each. El Centro, Calif., had the highest unemployment rate, 18.6 percent. A total of 195 areas had March jobless rates below theU.S. rate of 5.1 percent, 181 areas had rates above it, and 11 areas had rates equal to that of the nation.
El Centro, Calif., and Yuma, Ariz., had the largest over-the-year unemployment rate decreases in March (-4.1 percentage points each). Three other areas had rate declines of at least 2.0 percentage points. The largest over-the-yearrate increase occurred in Casper, Wyo. (+2.6 percentage points), followed by Odessa, Texas (+2.2 points).
Of the 51 metropolitan areas with a 2010 Census population of 1 million or more, Austin-Round Rock, Texas, had the lowest unemployment rate in March, 3.1 percent. Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, Ill.-Ind.-Wis., had the highest rate among the large areas, 6.6 percent. Thirty-six large areas had over-the-year unemployment rate decreases, 11 had increases, and 4 had no change. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, Calif., and Memphis, Tenn.-Miss.-Ark., had the largest rate decreases (-1.7 percentage points each). The largest over-the-year rate increases occurred in Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, Ill.-Ind.-Wis., and Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas(+0.6 percentage point each).