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American Cities Adding the Most Jobs

24/7 Wall St. logo 24/7 Wall St. 7/12/2017 Michael B. Sauter
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The United States nonfarm employment increased by 222,000 in May, as the unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 4.4%. Unemployment remains close to its lowest point in a decade.

Five years ago, the U.S. job market was still recovering from the effects of the Great Recession, as the national unemployment rate was about double what it is today. Across the country, after years of job losses, a number of metropolitan areas struggled with much, much higher jobless rates.

In the last five years, many of these metropolitan areas have reversed course, adding in some cases tens of thousands of employed workers to the economy and in most cases reaching more optimal unemployment levels. The metropolitan areas that added the most jobs can be found across the country.

The metropolitan areas that saw employment grow as much as 30% over the past five years, tended to benefit from growing professional sectors, while construction, leisure and hospitality, or business jobs were the primary driver for growth in others with substantial increases in total employment.

50. Albany, OR: <p><strong>> Employment increase 2012-2017:</strong> 13.2%<br><strong>> Employment increase 2012-2017:</strong> 6,519<br><strong>> May unemployment:</strong> 3.8%<br><strong>> Industry contributing most to job growth:</strong> Durable goods<br><strong>> Employment growth in durable goods sector:</strong> 1,200</p> American Cities Adding the Most Jobs

Detailed Findings:

In a few of the metropolitan areas that added the most to employment over the last five years unemployment remains high. Notably, despite adding close to 12,000 employed workers since 2012, the unemployment rate in Yuma, Arizona is a whopping 18.9%, the second highest rate in the country after El Centro, California. This is nevertheless an improvement over its even more staggering 25% jobless rate five years ago.

Places like Yuma are the exception to the rule, however. The vast majority of metropolitan areas on this list, thanks to years of declining joblessness, now have among the lowest unemployment rates in the United States. Forty of the 50 metropolitan areas that added the most jobs over the last five years had an unemployment rates lower than 4.3% in May -- the U.S. rate that month.

In a few of these metro areas, unemployment was consistently low over the past half decade. For example, Provo, Utah had a May 2012 unemployment rate of 4.9% when the U.S. rate was 8.2%. Provo, with its growing tech and professional sectors, added nearly 60,000 employees since then and now has a 2.9% unemployment rate.

In other metro areas on this list, the economy and job market turned around in the last five years. Bend, Oregon's unemployment rate fell from 10.1% in May 2012 to 3.2% in May 2017 as area employment has increased by a net of over 20,000. Bend's employment growth of nearly 30% is second only to St. George, Utah among metropolitan areas.

While at one point after the recession the oil and gas industry was one of the primary drivers of job growth nationwide, the industry hit a stumbling block beginning in 2014 when global oil prices plummeted. It was no longer a primary driver of job growth, and the most common major contributor to growth among the cities adding the most jobs was professional and scientific sector, which includes white-collar jobs such as those found in the tech industry.

In other metro areas, the largest shares of job growth came from sectors that generally reflect overall economic and population boom such as government, construction, and retail. In St. George, the metro area with the fastest job growth over the last five years, the number of people employed in retail increased by about 25%.

Methodology:

To identify the metropolitan area with the most job growth, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed metropolitan statistical areas with the greatest growth in employment from May 2012 through May 2017. Unemployment rates, the size of the labor force, and employment levels are from the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly survey of households jointly administered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and U.S. Census Bureau. Industry-specific growth rates for the same period are from the Current Employment Survey (CES), also from the BLS.

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