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Unemployment rates up in 90 percent of US cities

Bismarck, North Dakota, had the lowest jobless rate at 2.8 percent, while Yuma, Arizona, reported the highest at 31.8 percent — over three times the national average.

Ahead of tomorrow's jobs report, a look at broader unemployment

A state-by-state look at unemployment, and under-employment.
American companies us jobs 2011 4 19Enlarge
People looking for jobs wait in line to speak with potential employers at the Brooklyn Job Fair on April 13, 2011 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Thousands attended the event which featured nearly 80 employers in a variety of professions. (Spencer Platt/AFP/Getty Images)

Friday is the big day of the week for watchers of the US economy.

The Labor department will release its latest check-up of US unemployment, the most important measure of the world's largest economy. 

Why is this one report so important every month?

People don't spend if they don't have jobs. And the US economy is driven largely by consumer spending. So any economic recovery begins in your wallet, and hence, in the labor market.

It's also important right now in the context of the 2012 presidential election, as President Barack Obama will argue that his administration has done an effective job bringing the US economy back. The GOP candidate, which increasingly appears will be Mitt Romney, will no doubt attack Obama on jobs.

So Friday's report will provide further ammunition to both sides, and give the rest of us another data point to chew over. 

Ahead of that key report, our friends at the Wall Street Journal's Real Time Economics blog have posted this handy interactive map, which offers a state-by-state breakdown of the broader unemployment measure called the U-6 rate.

The U-6 rate includes those Americans who would like a job, but who are so discouraged by the weak labor market conditions that they have dropped out (and are, accordingly, not be counted).

Click here for the interactive map, and see below for the screen grab (the Journal won't let me embed it here, unfortunately).

The darker the blue, the deeper the problems:

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