In November 2012, the national unemployment rate was 7.4 percent, down from 8.2 percent a year earlier, according to figures released by the Bureau of Labor of Statistics. By comparison, 217 of the nation’s 372 metro areas posted unemployment rates below the national unemployment rate, 9 equal to it, and 146 above it.

Only four metro areas posted unemployment rates of 15 percent or higher, while 52 areas reported unemployment rates lower than 5 percent. As in recent months, Yuma, Arizona (27.5 percent) and El Centro, California (26.6 percent) posted the highest unemployment rates, while Bismarck, North Dakota (2.6 percent) posted the lowest unemployment rate.

Las Vegas-Paradise, Nevada experienced the largest unemployment rate decline among metro areas with a 2000 Census population of 1 million or more – news that bodes well for a city that has faced tough times over the past several years. Between November 2011 and November 2012, the Las Vegas metro area experienced a 2.6 percent decrease in unemployment, the biggest decline among large metro areas.

Hit hard by the recession, Las Vegas has found the need to focus on diversifying its economy. Perhaps this bit of good news is a sign of better roads ahead. While sustained trends over time will reveal the story as it unfolds, Las Vegas’ employment fluctuations will be worth monitoring.