American Cities Adding the Most Jobs

5. Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford, Va.
>Pct. increase of employed: 9.9%
>Increase in people employed: 7,089 (82nd highest)
>June 2009 unemployment rate: 9.6% (168th highest)
>June 2012 unemployment rate: 7.0% (95th lowest)

While the labor force didn’t grow as much in Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford as much as it did in other places such as Lafayette or Laredo in the past three years, it did increase by a solid 5.9% from June 2011 to June 2012, the 18th highest out of 374 metro areas. In the last year, Volvo has brought 700 employees back to its plant in the metro area following recent surges in North American sales. Blacksburg has also added government jobs at a much faster clip than the state of Virginia as a whole. Government workers comprised 22,800 employees as of June 2012, up 5.6% compared to a year ago. Meanwhile, Virginia’s government sector jobs have barely increased at all in the last year.

4. Gainesville, Ga.
>Pct. increase of employed: 10.6%
>Increase in people employed: 8,437(68th highest)
>June 2009 unemployment rate: 9.8% (161st highest)
>June 2012 unemployment rate: 7.5% (136th lowest)

Between June 2009 and June 2012, the number of people employed in the Gainesville metropolitan area increased by 10.6%, one of only four metropolitan areas out of 374 to see an increase of more than 10% in those three years. The labor force as a whole increased by 6.8% during this time, the 12th largest increase of all metro areas. While the number of people employed increased by 8,437, the number of people unemployed decreased by 1,611. The number of people in non-farm jobs was roughly 80,500 as of June 2012, according to the BLS. This was an increase of 8.1% from the year-ago period.

Also Read: America’s Most Obese States

3. Midland, Texas
>Pct. increase of employed: 11.2%
>Increase in people employed: 8,265 (69th highest)
>June 2009 unemployment rate: 6.6% (36th lowest)
>June 2012 unemployment rate: 4.3% (7th lowest)

The unemployment rate in Midland never reached high national numbers. The June 2009 unemployment rate of 6.6% was well below the 9.5% in the U.S. And the employment situation continued to improve in the years that followed. In June 2012, the Midland metropolitan area had 85,904 people in the labor force, up 14% from the 75,284 people in the force back in June 2009 — the largest percent increase of all metropolitan areas except for Odessa. The mining, logging and construction industry, the largest employment sector in Midland with approximately 19,900 employees as of June 2012, added 7.6% more jobs from a year earlier. This was actually less than Texas as a whole, where the number of jobs in the industry has grown by 12.6% from last year.  The major down spot for employment in Midland is the government sector, which has declined 8.2% from June 2011 to June 2012.

2. Columbus, Ind.
>Pct. increase of employed: 14.5%
>Increase in people employed: 5,066 (98th highest)
>June 2009 unemployment rate: 10.7% (111th highest)
>June 2012 unemployment rate: 6.3% (59th lowest)

The labor force of the Columbus metro area has increased by 9.2% from June 2009 to June 2012, the fifth-largest increase of all metropolitan areas. In the last year alone, the labor force has grown 5.9%, while the percentage of people employed grew by 7.4%, biggest increase of all but three metro areas. Manufacturing, the largest employment sector in Columbus, has grown measurably in the past year. Columbus is the home of engine manufacturer Cummins, which has been adding jobs over the last year and will continue to do so as the demand for its products remains high. Meanwhile, employment in the leisure and entertainment sectors rose 13.9% in the same period.

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1. Odessa, Tex.
>Pct. increase of employed: 18.4%
>Increase in people employed: 12,313 (45th highest)
>June 2009 unemployment rate: 9.6% (168th highest)
>June 2012 unemployment rate: 4.9% (15th lowest)

The size of the labor force has grown dramatically in Odessa since 2009, when it was comprised of just 71,771 people. Since 2009, the labor force has grown to 83,424, an increase of 16.2%, and the largest increase of all metropolitan areas measured. The growth in employment has been spread across a number of industries, many of which have seen double-digit year-over-year growth in the past year, including in financial service, trade, transportation and utilities, and leisure and hospitality.  In the past year, the unemployment rate dropped 49%, the third largest drop of all metro areas measured.

Samuel Weigley

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