Fresno posts second worst true unemployment rate in nation

Bakersfield saw the largest jump in the country in true unemployment, but the south Valley city still had a below average rate.

The Fresno metropolitan area had the second-highest functional unemployment rate in the nation in 2023, according to a story from the Ludwig Institute for Shared Economic Prosperity. 

The Ludwig Institute released its rankings last week for the True Rate of Unemployment analysis. 


The big picture: Fresno’s “functionally unemployed” rate was 31.1 percent last year, the second highest among the 100 largest cities in the country. 

  • The functionally unemployed are those who are jobless and those who are looking for work but are unable to find full-time employment that pays above the poverty level. 
  • McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas, was the only other large metropolitan area to rank above Fresno, with a true unemployment rate of 48 percent. 
  • Fresno’s True Unemployment Rate Out of the Population, which measures the functional unemployment rate of the entire working age population, was at 60 percent. 
  • Fresno also had the third-highest increase in functional unemployment at seven points.
  • The Bakersfield area had a highest jump at nine points, but had a below average true unemployment rate at 21 percent. 

What they’re saying: “Our data again reveal crucial dynamics at play. Local communities investing in infrastructure, housing, and future-oriented industries consistently outperform those more reliant on low-wage jobs,” said Ludwig Institute Chairman Gene Ludwig. “These findings show that some regions are enabling middle- and working-class families to thrive – while others grapple with financial security.”

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