The Cities That Added the Most Jobs
10. Odessa, Texas
> Employed pct. increase: 4.93%
> Total employed increase: 3,782
> Workforce: 83,757
> Unemployment rate: 3.9%
Only 3,300 people were unemployed in Odessa’s labor force of 83,500, amounting to an unemployment rate of just 3.9%, or just over half of the national rate of 7.9% for October. The region’s largest sector by headcount — mining, logging and construction — grew by 5.4%. The second largest sector — trade, transportation, and utilities — grew by 6.3%. Odessa has significantly benefited from a strong oil industry given its location near the Permian Basin.
9. Athens-Clarke County, Ga.
> Employed pct. increase: 4.95%
> Total employed increase: 5,043
> Workforce: 114,035
> Unemployment rate: 6.2%
Over the last year, Athens added slightly more than 5,000 jobs, led by the hospitality as well as the business and professional services sectors. The additional jobs increased the total number of residents employed by nearly 5% and lowered the city’s unemployment rate to 6.2% in October, down from 7.2% the year before. In February, Caterpillar announced plans to build a plant in Athens to produce both tractors and hydraulic excavators. The company expects to hire 1,400 workers for the location in the next several years.
8. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif.
> Employed pct. increase: 4.98%
> Total employed increase: 6,851
> Workforce: 158,053
> Unemployment rate: 8.7%
Between October 2011 and October 2012, the Santa Cruz-Watsonville metro area added nearly 7,000 new jobs, while unemployment fell by 1.4 percentage points, from 10.1% to 8.7%. One of the largest job sectors in the area, the trade, transportation and utilities sector, added 1,100 jobs during that time. This has increased the number of workers in the field by 6.5%. According to the Santa Cruz Sentinel, Santa Cruz County has recently added 2,200 public education jobs, much of this hiring has been for the University of California at Santa Cruz, the county’s largest employer.
7. Sebastian-Vero Beach, Fla.
> Employed pct. increase: 5.05%
> Total employed increase: 2,790
> Workforce: 64,553
> Unemployment rate: 10.2%
Trade, transportation and utilities, the largest sector in the Sebastian-Vero Beach area, grew by 6.7% between October 2011 and the same month this year. Just between September and October, employment in that sector rose from about 9,200 to about 9,600. Notably, a high-speed passenger train traveling between Orlando and Miami that will stop in Vero Beach, may have helped increase transportation jobs. The second-largest employment sector, education and health services, grew by 5.7% over the course of the year.
6. Elkhart-Goshen, Ind.
> Employed pct. increase: 5.34%
> Total employed increase: 4,362
> Workforce: 93,768
> Unemployment rate: 8.3%
The Elkhart-Goshen area was devastated by the recession. Between 2007 and 2008 alone the area’s annual unemployment rate rose from 4.6% to 8.5%, and peaked in March 2009 at 20.2%. The closings of several RV plants were especially devastating, contributing to a loss of more than 20,000 manufacturing jobs between 2007 and 2009. However, the area has since made progress recovering such jobs. As of October there were 6,300 more jobs in the local manufacturing sector than 12 months prior, a 13.5% increase. Still, many jobs remain endangered. Just recently, Cequent Performance Products announced plans to move its trailer hitch manufacturing operations to Mexico — costing 450 workers their jobs.