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El Centro, the Imperial County desert community east of San Diego’s Laguna Mountains, continues to be plagued by the nation’s highest unemployment rate, the Imperial Valley Press reports.

26.8 percent of El Centro residents were officially counted in unemployment statistics as of December 2011 – and that’s actually an improvement. In November the rate was 28.5 percent, and it peaked at over 32 percent in the summer of 2010. The Reader featured in-depth coverage on the community’s plight and potential savior – green energy, in late 2010. The energy jobs, however, have yet to materialize.

The second-worst jobs market in the country was neighboring Yuma, a bit farther east and just across the Arizona border, reporting a jobless rate of 23.1 percent. Nationally, unemployment fell from 9.1 percent a year ago to 8.3 percent last month, still significantly above levels considered “normal.”

San Diego still lags the national average, reporting 8.9 percent unemployment in December, down from 9.2 percent a month earlier.

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