The improved U.S. labor market has attracted more people to the labor force — defined as those who are employed and those actively seeking work. Because jobs have been added at twice the pace that people joined the labor force, the national unemployment rate reached a near eight-year low, decreasing from 9.1% in the spring of 2011 to 5.0% as of this April.
24/7 Wall St. compared the most recent employment levels in metro areas across the United States with levels five years ago to find the city with the highest employment growth in each state. With the economic recovery, the vast majority of metro areas report at least some job growth over this time. In some cities, the number of jobs has grown dramatically. Employment levels in five metro areas grew by at least 20%, and in St. George, Utah, the five-year employment growth of 26.6% was the fastest in the country.
Although most states report employment growth since April 2011, not all cities within the same state report the same growth. In fact, cities within the same state can have dramatically different job markets. So while employment declined in the Sierra Vista-Douglas metro area, Arizona, the labor market in Prescott, Arizona, improved markedly and was the fastest growing in the state. Improved markedly — the fastest growth in Arizona. Similarly, employment increased by 6.4% in Morgantown, West Virginia in the past five years. However, less than 200 miles away, in Beckley, West Virginia, employment decreased by 8.9%, the largest drop in the nation.
Job gains, or losses, in an area are usually tied to particular industries — typically the nation’s largest. Health care and social assistance, retail trade, state and local government, and the professional and business services sectors are the nation’s major industry employers. Likewise, the cities on this list reflect either the nation’s or the state’s major sectors, which tend to be major contributors to the overall state economy.
The largest drivers of job growth in Columbus, Indiana, and Grand Rapids, Michigan, for example, are the two cities’ manufacturing industries. The sector dominates not just these cities but the economies of Indiana and Michigan as a whole.
To identify the city in each state with the most job growth, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed metropolitan statistical areas with the most significant changes in employment from April 2011 through April 2016. 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.
These are the cities adding the most jobs in every state.