The San Joaquin Valley continues to be at the heart of the nation's unemployment problem.
A report released this week by the U.S. Labor Department shows that the valley accounts for six of the 10 metropolitan areas with the worst unemployment rates in the country.
The valley cities stretch from Stockton to Visalia-Porterville and also include Modesto, Merced, Fresno and Hanford-Corcoran.
Two other California metro areas also made the bottom 10: No. 1 El Centro in Imperial County and No. 2 Yuba City in Sutter County.
"It's one of those perfect storm situations," said University of California at Merced economics Professor Shawn Kantor. "So it will take a very long time for this area to recover."
The metro area jobless rates across the valley range from 18.6 percent in Merced to 16.4 percent in the Hanford- Corcoran area, well above both the California and U.S. unemployment rates of 12.4 percent and 9.8 percent, respectively.
The Labor Department report looks at 372 of the nation's largest metro areas in November.
Still, economists said it is important to note that the SanJoaquin Valley started the recession with a historically higher unemployment rate than other parts of the country. The region has been consistently above the state and national averages, even during sunnier economic times.
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