In October, unemployment rates were lower in 329 of 372 metro areas, higher in 37 areas and unchanged in six areas from a year earlier, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said Wednesday.

About 35 metro areas reported jobless rates of at least 10%, down from 80 areas last year. Also, 180 areas posted rates below 7%, up from 107 areas a year earlier.

Yuma, Ariz., and El Centro, Calif., posted the highest unemployment rates in October, 29.8% and 28.1%, respectively. Bismarck, N.D., posted the lowest unemployment rate, at 2.2%.

Among the 49 metro areas with a Census 2000 population of 1 million or more, the highest unemployment rates were registered in Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif., and Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev., 11.7% and 11.1%, respectively.

The lowest jobless rate among large areas was in Oklahoma City, Okla., with 4.9%. 

In October, 288 metro areas reported over-the-year increases in nonfarm payroll employment, 80 reported decreases, and four had no change.

The largest over-the-year employment increase occurred in New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, N.Y.-N.J.-Pa., with 128,000 more positions. 

The largest over-the-year decrease in employment occurred in Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, Wis., down 5,800 positions.

Over the year, nonfarm employment rose in 36 of the 37 metro areas with annual average employment levels above 750,000 in 2011. 

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 7.5%, which was not seasonally adjusted, down from 8.5% a year earlier, while nonfarm payroll rose by 171,000 positions, compared to 114,000 positions last month.

cmlynski@housingwire.com