ZIP Codes Highest Percent Unemployment

Written by Carly Hallman

Right now, the U.S. unemployment rate is about four percent, and it’s been sinking ever since the economic crisis of 2009 (when it was closer to reaching ten percent). We’re doing fine. But national statistics only show a wide picture of the whole; if we zoom in and look closer at communities and cities across the USA, we can see how unemployment jumps and sinks depending on which city, county, and state you live in. We’ve done exactly that by breaking down unemployment by ZIP code, and in the ten ZIP code areas with the highest percentage of unemployed people, those percentages go far above four percent!

Zip Code With the Highest Percentage Unemployed in the United States

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ZIP Codes With the Highest Unemployment Rate in the United States

All data based on ZIP codes with a population of at least 1,000 people aged 16 years or older

State Zip Code 1 (location) (percentage) Zip Code 2 (location) (percentage) Zip Code 3 (location) (percentage)
Alabama 36482 Whatley 43.5% 36849 Auburn 39.5% 36776 Sawyerville 36.4%
Alaska 99604 Hooper Bay 38.1% 99775 College 26.4% 99694 Big Lake 21.7%
Arizona 85911 Cibecue 49.9% 85941 Canyon Day 43.4% 86053 Kaibito 42.8%
Arkansas 72523 Concord 32.1% 71726 Chidester 29.2% 72069 Holly Grove 26.3%
California 92275 Salton City 49.5% 95202 Stockton 34.9% 91330 Los Angeles 33.5%
Colorado 81062 Olney Springs 42.5% 80310 Boulder 28.9% 81152 San Luis 25.9%
Connecticut 06120 Hartford 31.9% 06607 Bridgeport 27.3% 06112 Hartford 25.3%
Delaware 19801 Wilmington 18.8% 19802 Wilmington 14.9% 19960 Lincoln 14.0%
Florida 32096 White Springs 30.0% 32254 Jacksonville 29.4% 33476 Pahokee 28.5%
Georgia 31698 Valdosta 46.5% 30609 Athens 37.0% 30118 Carrollton 30.7%
Hawaii 96778 Hawaiian Beaches 20.7% 96760 Kurtistown 19.2% 96729 Kualapuu 17.4%
Idaho 83813 Sagle 23.6% 83537 Kendrick 20.0% 83839 Enaville 19.4%
Illinois 62523 Decatur 71.4% 60636 Chicago 35.5% 60958 Hopkins Park 34.3%
Indiana 47306 Muncie 37.4% 47273 Scipio 31.2% 47989 Deer Mill 30.6%
Iowa 50012 Ames 26.9% 50011 Ames 22.7% 52590 Seymour 20.7%
Kansas 66045 Lawrence 27.4% 66612 Topeka 23.0% 67214 Wichita 22.9%
Kentucky 41180 Webbville 42.3% 41262 Tomahawk 37.6% 41719 Hazard 34.6%
Louisiana 71272 Ruston 33.6% 70450 Mt. Hermon 27.9% 71334 Ferriday 26.2%
Maine 04668 Grand Lake Stream 21.9% 04658 Milbridge 21.1% 04460 Medway 20.7%
Maryland 21205 Baltimore 24.9% 21223 Baltimore 23.8% 21217 Baltimore 20.3%
Massachusetts 02121 Boston 23.0% 01105 Springfield 21.6% 01107 Chicopee 20.3%
Michigan 48234 Detroit 39.0% 48206 Detroit 35.3% 48204 Detroit 35.2%
Minnesota 55455 Minneapolis 33.3% 56671 Red Lake 32.6% 56666 Ponemah 28.3%
Mississippi 39762 Mississippi State 51.7% 38754 Isola 36.9% 38761 Moorhead 36.5%
Missouri 63120 St. Louis 30.4% 63113 St. Louis 26.8% 63107 St. Louis 26.4%
Montana 59022 Crow Agency 38.3% 59050 Lodge Grass 32.3% 59043 Lame Deer 28.2%
Nebraska 68039 Macy 40.2% 68110 Omaha 22.5% 68111 Omaha 19.1%
Nevada 89429 Fernley 27.9% 89018 Indian Springs 26.2% 89048 Pahrump 23.7%
New Hampshire 03251 Franconia 15.6% 03470 Winchester 14.9% 03446 Swanzey 14.4%
New Jersey 08102 Camden 28.2% 07108 Newark 27.2% 08104 Camden 25.9%
New Mexico 88003 Las Cruces 50.1% 87045 Prewitt 32.9% 88340 Mescalero 30.3%
New York 14614 Rochester 42.9% 12759 Loch Sheldrake 30.9% 12207 Albany 28.2%
North Carolina 27842 Henrico 36.0% 27897 Woodland 33.8% 27110 Winston-Salem 32.8%
North Dakota 58538 Fort Yates 24.0% 58105 Fargo 13.0% 58552 Temvik 6.9%
Ohio 43403 Bowling Green 46.0% 44104 Cleveland 37.8% 44510 Youngstown 37.5%
Oklahoma 74126 Tulsa 21.4% 74103 Tulsa 20.6% 74766 Wright City 18.9%
Oregon 97204 Portland 57.7% 97532 Merlin 30.3% 97761 Warm Springs 28.0%
Pennsylvania 18332 Henryville 30.6% 15110 Duquesne 27.8% 19134 Philadelphia 25.4%
Rhode Island 02907 Providence 20.4% 02905 Providence 17.3% 02909 Providence 16.5%
South Carolina 29225 Columbia 28.0% 29810 Allendale 27.0% 29152 Shaw 26.4%
South Dakota 57572 Spring Creek 41.3% 57772 Porcupine 36.9% 57570 Rosebud 35.2%
Tennessee 38505 Cookeville 87.4% 38126 Memphis 36.6% 37410 Chattanooga 34.9%
Texas 78829 Batesville 33.4% 79406 Lubbock 32.7% 75962 Nacogdoches 29.5%
Utah 84784 Colorado City 33.0% 84534 Montezuma Creek 19.9% 84101 Salt Lake City 18.2%
Vermont 05405 Burlington 19.1% 05777 West Rutland 14.2% 05440 Alburgh 14.0%
Virginia 23806 Petersburg 49.7% 24142 Radford 30.5% 24176 Union Hall 25.3%
Washington 98547 Grayland 28.4% 98416 Tacoma 26.0% 98546 Grapeview 24.8%
West Virginia 25422 Great Cacapon 34.3% 26623 Frametown 31.1% 25671 Dingess 27.8
Wisconsin 53206 Milwaukee 30.7% 53205 Milwaukee 26.7% 53404 Racine 20.5%
Wyoming 82644 Mills 16.8% 83127 Star Valley Ranch 12.7% 82410 Basin 10.7%

ZIP Codes With the Highest Unemployment Rate in the United States

Zip Code Location Percentage
38505 Cookeville, Tennessee 87.4%
62523 Decatur, Illinois 71.4%
97204 Portland, Oregon 57.7%
39762 Mississippi State, Mississippi 51.7%
88003 Las Cruces, New Mexico 50.1%
85911 Cibecue, Arizona 49.9%
23806 Petersburg, Virginia 49.7%
92275 Salton City, California 49.5%
31698 Valdosta, Georgia 46.5%
43403 Bowling Green, Ohio 46.0%

Before looking into unemployment data by ZIP code, let’s consider everything on a state level. The state with the highest unemployment rate is usually Alaska. Among the other most unemployed states and territories are typically the District of Columbia, New Mexico, and West Virginia. All in all, state rates usually still stay far below seven percent. But we’re still looking at too large of a picture when glancing at states with the most unemployment. For instance, within Alaska, the most unemployed state, the city of Juneau is doing pretty well, at a rate that’s around five percent, but counties like Denali have double-digit numbers. Denali’s jobless rate is 20.2 percent!

What’s the highest unemployment rate in U.S. cities?

Among American metropolitan areas, the most unemployed city is El Centro, California, at 20.9 percent, followed by Yuma, Arizona, at 18 percent. Many southern Californian metro areas top the list. This data is only for census-designated metropolitan areas, though, and cities are often doing better than rural areas regarding employment figures. We’ve seen again and again how reporters, economists, and scientists have claimed that rural America is shrinking in population, struggling to keep up with economic demands, and suffering from the contemptuous relationship with energy-hogging cities. Only counting the metro areas when looking at the United States unemployment rate limits our view, too, so that we don’t have to look deeply at the communities currently struggling the most.

Which ZIP code truly has the worst unemployment rate in the U.S.?

Unfortunately, reliable data isn’t usually collected that way on a local level. The statistics are organized by ZIP code not by unemployment rate but by percent not employed. That’s a subtle difference that can mean hugely different numbers. Unemployment rate by ZIP code data is simply unavailable, but we can make our best guess.

What’s the difference between the unemployment rate and percent not employed?

The percent not employed is the total amount of non-working people over the age of 16 in an area. The unemployment rate looks very closely at the labor force, as defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It discounts people who are retired, in the armed forces, in prison, in school, and a mysterious sum of people called “discouraged workers,” those who have looked for a job in the past 12 months but have not searched actively in the four weeks before the survey was taken (meaning that they may have given up looking). So the unemployment rate by ZIP code can sometimes show only a fraction of the total percent unemployed.

Which ZIP code has the highest percent unemployed in the U.S.?

Once we look at the local level, we see statistics that are truly staggering: In Cookeville, Tennessee, ZIP code 38505, the unemployed percentage is a whopping 87.4. Although the city of Cookeville itself and the rest of Tennessee are both doing very well, this paints a very different picture for one tiny community. Within cities like Portland, Oregon, small communities can be full of unemployed people, and in some rural areas on our list, almost half of the citizens aren’t working. Sometimes that is due to the college or prison population, but still, it gives a deeper picture of what’s going on in different parts of America.

Is moving the only option for those in high-unemployment communities?

It depends. There is not always overlap between the unemployment rates and the communities with the lowest income per capita. Sometimes, there are plenty of jobs a county or ZIP code away. Those living in Portland or even Cookeville might not have to worry, as both of these cities are always working at pulling in more jobs.

However, it’s important to stay mobile in times of crisis. Remember: Unemployment in the United States as a whole hasn’t touched the numbers seen in the Great Depression since. Often, we can still find jobs; we might just have to commute longer to do it.


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