Unemployment up? Not in these four maverick cities.

The US lost jobs in September and the unemployment rate remains at a high 9.6 percent, the US Department of Labor reported Friday. But some metropolitan areas are bucking the trend and adding jobs. By making everything from food to music and band instruments, these four metros have seen the biggest year-over-year decline in their unemployment rates. Is your city on this list?

1. Janesville, Wis.: unemployment down 2.2 percentage points

Tom Lynn/ Rapport Press/Newscom
In this 2009 photo, Ed Martinez (right), a former autoworker, was working for a local job center in Janesville, Wis., helping other ex autoworkers adapt to life after the 2008 closing of the local General Motors assembly plant. The city is proving there's life after GM. It's unemployment rate has fallen 2.2 percentage points in a year.

Janesville has seen its share of economic reversals. The city where Parker Pen Co. was founded lost the company headquarters in a 1987 buyout. In 2008, its auto assembly plant shut down, the oldest General Motors plant in North America. Now, the Wisconsin city is staging a comeback, thanks to a pickup in its manufacturing, food processing, and health-care sectors.

Janesville's unemployment rate in August dropped to 8.8 percent, down from 11.1 percent a year earlier. That's the fourth-largest decline among US metropolitan areas, according to the US Department of Labor.

"In Wisconsin, we are seeing a tortoise recovery," says Roberta Gassman,secretary of Wisconsin's Department of Workforce Development. But "our unemployment rate is lower than the other heavy Midwestern manufacturing states."

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