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The Healthiest and Frailest U.S. City Labor Markets

Alex Carrick
The Healthiest and Frailest U.S. City Labor Markets

Tables 1 and 2 accompanying this article set out and rank year-over-year jobs growth rates and unemployment rates for 50 of America’s largest (i.e., according to population) cities.

The ranking of jobs growth rates goes from fastest to slowest. The ranking for unemployment rates is from lowest to highest.

The ten cities with shading are the truly outsized metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) in the country. A separate ranking for them, on their own, will be discussed at the end of this piece.

As of September 2017, the five cites with the strongest records of jobs creation year over year (from Table 1) were: Nashville (+3.1%); Raleigh (+2.9%); Dallas-Ft. Worth (+2.7%); Atlanta (+2.5%); and Riverside (also +2.5%).

Notice that all those cities, other than Riverside, are in the southern U.S.

Appearing at the bottom of Table 1 are four cities that have experienced declines in employment year over year: Hartford (-0.1%); Buffalo (-0.6%); Rochester (also -0.6%); and Virginia Beach (-1.2%). In the foregoing, the state of New York is represented twice.

From Table 2, the five cities nationwide with the lowest unemployment rates currently are: Denver (2.2%); Nashville (2.3%); Austin (2.9%); Minneapolis-St. Paul (also 2.9%); and Salt Lake City (3.0%).

True to its country-music heritage, although it is also now a major force in the delivery of health care services, Nashville is a star. It is the only city to appear among the best for both jobs growth and jobless rate.

The five cities with the worst unemployment rates in the U.S. presently are: Buffalo (4.9%); New Orleans (5.0%); Las Vegas (5.2%); Riverside (5.4%); and Cleveland (5.7%).

There are numerous interesting stories buried within the data of Tables 1 and 2. For example, in the three high-tech hubs situated on the West Coast, Seattle (+2.3%) is beating both San Francisco (+1.4%) and San Jose (also +1.4%) in year-over-year jobs growth. But with respect to unemployment rates, the roles are reversed and both San Francisco (3.3%) and San Jose (also 3.3%) have the advantage over Seattle (4.2%).

In Ohio, Columbus (+2.4%) and Cincinnati (+2.3%) have been managing jobs growth year over year at rates twice as speedy as Cleveland (+1.1%). As for unemployment rates, Columbus (3.8%) and Cincinnati (3.9%) are traveling in the middle of the pack nationally, while Cleveland (5.7%) is riding the caboose.

In Texas, the cities of Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio all remain not too far from the tops of the leader boards in both Tables 1 and 2. Houston, however, ravaged earlier by energy sector woes and more recently by Hurricane Harvey, has slipped badly.

And while Detroit (4.4%) and Las Vegas (5.2%) still have poor unemployment rates, they can take solace from how much their jobs growth performances have improved. Las Vegas (+2.4%) is tied for a sixth-place ranking in Table 1 and Detroit (+1.8%) is in nineteenth spot.

For the ten largest MSAs in the country, a composite ranking has been calculated. First, each city’s rankings from Tables 1 and 2 were averaged. Then those average rankings for each city were themselves placed in order.

According to this composite measure, the number (1) big city with the healthiest labor market is Dallas-Ft. Worth. Rounding out the Top 5, in sequence, are: (2) Boston, (3) Atlanta, (4) Washington and (5) Philadelphia.

The bottom half of the ‘dominant ten’ is comprised of: (6) Miami; (7) Los Angeles; (8) New York; (9) Houston; and (10) Chicago.

Table 1: RANKING OF MAJOR U.S. CITIES
table 2: RANKING OF MAJOR U.S. CITIES
BY YEAR-OVER-YEAR EMPLOYMENT CHANGE
BY LATEST UNEMPLOYMENT RATE
(highest to lowest)
(lowest to highest)
SEP 2017 vs SEP 2016
SEPTEMBER 2017
1 Nashville, TN 3.1% 1 Denver, CO 2.2%
2 Raleigh, NC 2.9% 2 Nashville, TN 2.3%
3 Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX 2.7% 3 Austin, TX 2.9%
4 Atlanta, GA 2.5% 3 Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN 2.9%
4 Riverside, CA 2.5% 5 Salt Lake City, UT 3.0%
6 Columbus, OH 2.4% 6 Birmingham, AL 3.1%
6 Las Vegas, NV 2.4% 7 Orlando, FL 3.2%
6 Portland, OR 2.4% 7 San Antonio, TX 3.2%
9 Austin, TX 2.3% 9 Boston, MA 3.3%
9 Cincinnati, OH 2.3% 9 San Francisco, CA 3.3%
9 Indianapolis, IN 2.3% 9 San Jose, CA 3.3%
9 Seattle, WA 2.3% 9 Tampa, FL 3.3%
13 Boston, MA 2.2% 13 Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX 3.4%
13 Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN 2.2% 13 Indianapolis, IN 3.4%
13 Salt Lake City, UT 2.2% 13 Jacksonville, FL 3.4%
13 San Antonio, TX 2.2% 13 Kansas City, MO 3.4%
17 Charlotte, NC 2.1% 13 Milwaukee, WI 3.4%
18 Orlando, FL 2.0% 18 Memphis, TN 3.5%
19 Detroit, MI 1.8% 18 Raleigh, NC 3.5%
20 Phoenix, AZ 1.7% 18 St. Louis, MO 3.5%
21 Richmond, VA 1.6% 21 Washington, DC 3.6%
21 Sacramento, CA 1.6% 22 Baltimore, MD 3.7%
23 Pittsburgh, PA 1.5% 23 Charlotte, NC 3.8%
24 Denver, CO 1.4% 23 Columbus, OH 3.8%
24 Philadelphia, PA 1.4% 23 Providence, RI 3.8%
24 San Francisco, CA 1.4% 23 Richmond, VA 3.8%
24 San Jose, CA 1.4% 27 Cincinnati, OH 3.9%
24 Washington, DC 1.4% 27 Miami, FL 3.9%
29 Tampa, FL 1.3% 27 Oklahoma City, OK 3.9%
30 Kansas City, MO 1.2% 30 Atlanta, GA 4.0%
30 Oklahoma City, OK 1.2% 30 Phoenix, AZ 4.0%
32 Cleveland, OH 1.1% 30 Portland, OR 4.0%
32 San Diego, CA 1.1% 33 Hartford, CT 4.1%
34 Memphis, TN 1.0% 33 San Diego, CA 4.1%
35 Baltimore, MD 0.9% 33 Virginia Beach, VA 4.1%
35 Los Angeles, CA 0.9% 36 Seattle, WA 4.2%
35 New York, NY 0.9% 37 Detroit, MI 4.4%
35 St. Louis, MO 0.9% 37 Pittsburgh, PA 4.4%
39 Miami, FL 0.8% 39 Los Angeles, CA 4.5%
40 Houston, TX 0.7% 39 Sacramento, CA 4.5%
41 Birmingham, AL 0.6% 41 Philadelphia, PA 4.6%
42 Jacksonville, FL 0.4% 42 Chicago, IL 4.7%
42 Providence, RI 0.4% 42 New York, NY 4.7%
44 Chicago, IL 0.2% 42 Rochester, NY 4.7%
45 Milwaukee, WI 0.1% 45 Houston, TX 4.8%
45 New Orleans, LA 0.1% 46 Buffalo, NY 4.9%
47 Hartford, CT -0.1% 47 New Orleans, LA 5.0%
48 Buffalo, NY -0.6% 48 Las Vegas, NV 5.2%
48 Rochester, NY -0.6% 49 Riverside, CA 5.4%
50 Virginia Beach, VA -1.2% 50 Cleveland, OH 5.7%
U.S. 1.4% U.S. 4.1%
Based on average of latest three months, unadjusted data.

When the ranking numbers are the same, the cities are in a tie.
Data source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Tables: ConstructConnect.

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