Special Report

The City With the Weakest Job Growth in Every State

Detailed Findings

Cities have been the primary driver of employment growth in the U.S. over the last half decade. As a result, it may not be surprising that there are several states with no cities reporting a five-year drop in employment.

Such states include Delaware, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont, which each have only one major metro area. While in these special cases the state’s only metro area has the weakest job growth in the state by default, their economies still have some weaknesses.

For example, despite a net increase in employment across all industries, the information sector shed 40.0% of its workforce in Dover, Delaware, and 18.6% in Providence, Rhode Island, over the last five-years. Meanwhile, employment in the government sector contracted by 2.5% in Manchester, New Hampshire, while Burlington, Vermont’s manufacturing sector reported a 13.8% reduction in its workforce over the last five years.

Indeed, in nearly every city on this list with net five-year employment increases, there has been at least one industry that reported an overall decline in employment since 2013. Additionally, every city on this list — even those with double-digit job growth — has had slower five-year growth than either its home state or the nation as a whole, or both.

One of the primary drivers of job growth in American cities is population growth, which ultimately drives up demand for services. At the same time, a prosperous economy creates job opportunities, and is more likely to attract new residents. In just over half of the cities with the weakest job growth in every state, the population is smaller today than it was five years ago. Only eight cities on this list have had more rapid population growth than the 3.0% U.S. growth rate over the last half decade.

Partially due to a shrinking population or slower than average population growth, there are fewer job-seekers and workers in many cities on this list. And regardless of whether a city has positive or negative job growth, a smaller labor force can translate to an improvement in the unemployment rate. Among the metro areas on this list, unemployment rates range from as low as 2.0% in Honolulu, Hawaii, to 8.4% in Bakersfield, California.

In many cities with the worst job growth in each state, financial conditions are worsening for residents. In 14 cities on this list, the share of households earning $200,000 or more a year is smaller now than it was five years ago. Even more troubling, the poverty rate climbed in 12 cities on this list over the last half decade.


To determine the cities with the worst job market in every state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed employment growth for 381 metropolitan statistical areas for the period of May 2013 to May 2018 with data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Supplementary data on unemployment and employment by industry also came from the BLS. We also reviewed 2013 and 2016 poverty rates and households earning $200,000 or more per year from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Population estimates come from Census Bureau data for July 2013 and July 2017.

Sponsored: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.