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The jobless rate dropped in 230 cities in August, the Labor Department said Wednesday. It rose in 95 cities and was flat in 47. That’s an improvement from the previous month, when rates fell in only 152 areas.

Nationwide, unemployment ticked up in August to 9.6 percent from 9.5 percent the previous month. Businesses added a net total of 67,000 jobs, but about twice as many temporary census jobs ended.

The metro report does not adjust its figures to take into account seasonal trends, such as high unemployment among agricultural workers before fall harvests begin. As a result, the figures can differ from the national trend and can be volatile from month to month.

The biggest monthly declines in unemployment were in cities in Mississippi and Michigan. Cities in Washington state and Louisiana, among others, saw the biggest increases.

The housing slump and rising foreclosures are holding back many cities out West, where unemployment rates are rising more than a year after the recession ended. Some economists forecast that trend will continue, even as other regions experience job growth.

For example, unemployment rose to 14.7 percent last month in Las Vegas, the city with the highest foreclosure rate. That’s up from 13 percent in August 2009. Reno’s unemployment rose to 13.3 percent from 11.7 percent a year ago and the rate in Carson City, Nevada’s capital, rose to 13.1 percent from 11.6 percent.

MEDICARE

Options to increase on prescription gap

Seniors with high drug costs will soon have more options to help them cope with Medicare’s prescription-coverage gap.

Reversing a steady decline, the number of prescription plans covering at least some brand-name drugs in the “doughnut hole” coverage gap will triple next year, from 35 to 106. That’s according to an analysis of Medicare data to be released Wednesday by Avalere Health, a private research firm.

At least two plans covering some brand-name drugs in the gap will be available in every region of the country. Overall, one-third of plans will offer gap coverage, up from one-fifth this year. Some only provide generics.

The plans that cover brand-name medications in the gap offer only a limited range, usually drugs to treat chronic illnesses. And the enhanced coverage comes with a higher monthly premium.

Nonetheless, some seniors may be willing to pay more for greater peace of mind. Some of the most widely used medications, including Lipitor for high cholesterol, are not available as generics.

“The coverage of generics in the gap has been fairly stable, but there has been very little coverage of brand-name drugs,” said Bonnie Washington, an Avalere researcher who worked on the study. “This is the first year we have really seen it come back.”

The coverage expansion is partly the result of prodding by Medicare officials to get private insurers to offer more robust plans, Washington said.

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