Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Best and worst cities for jobs

By Anthony Balderrama on Jan 5, 2011 in Employment TrendsFeaturedJob Search

That some locations have better job markets than others is not news. Regardless of the overall economy, some metros boom while others falter. What does change, and what job seekers care about, is where the growth is happening. Metropolitan areas that thrive today weren’t necessarily hotspots 10 years ago. The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released year-over-year employment figures for the country’s 372 metropolitan areas.
In November, the month for which the most recent data is available, 180 metropolitan areas saw increases in nonfarm payroll employment, compared to the year before. Slightly fewer metro areas (176) saw an employment decrease during the same period. This information’s good to know for anyone who wants to stay current on the economic health of their city. For job seekers, however, these figures are important because they can help you decide if relocating is something to consider.

Where jobs are growing
With 180 metros showing job growth, you have plenty of places to look for employment.
In terms of raw numbers, these metropolitan areas experienced the largest over-the-year nonfarm payroll employment:
However, if you’re looking at percentages of growth, these metros were the leaders:
Ocean City, N.J. (17.6 percent)
Manhattan, Kan. (5.4 percent)
Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, Wash. (5 percent)
St. Joseph, Mo.-Kan. (3.9 percent)
Where the jobs are decreasing
Unfortunately, every yin comes with a yang, and many metro areas are losing the jobs that the aforementioned locales are gaining. Based on raw numbers, these areas lost the most nonfarm payroll jobs:
Based on percentages of employment decrease, these metros experienced the largest losses:
Yuba City, Calif. (3.7 percent)
Great Falls, Mont. (3.6 percent)
Holland-Grand Haven, Mich. (3.4 percent)
Unemployment rates by metro
As we’ve mentioned before, the unemployment rate is a lagging indicator. The factors that affect unemployment, such as mass layoffs or mass hiring, occur after the recession or recovery has already begun. For that reason, job creation numbers can be more helpful in determining where healthy job markets are. That said, unemployment rates are still worth looking at to get an idea of what the jobs situation is like for workers in a particular metro. According to the BLS, 114 were experiencing unemployment rates of 10 percent or higher in November. One year prior that number was 127, so that’s a bit of progress. On the flip side, 63 percent of metropolitan areas had unemployment rates below 7 percent. The high rate was 24.8 percent in Yuma, Ariz. Meanwhile, Bismarck, N.D., reported the lowest unemployment rate with 3.3 percent.
To see how your metropolitan area stands up, check out this BLS table.
What to make of this
When you’re given this many figures, you can feel overwhelmed, or better yet, confused. What are you supposed to do with all of this information? You’ve got metropolitan employment figures one day, the country’s unemployment rate the next, and earnings figures another. All of this information can make you want to turn off the computer screen and walk away.
Use all of these figures to guide your job search. Don’t pack up and move across the country today just because the employment growth is better in Dallas than in Chicago. However, if you have noticed that the job market where you live is struggling more than those where your friends and family live, you might want to consider what your best options are. Relocation isn’t an easy solution for all workers, and it certainly isn’t cheap. If you have a family or own a home, moving to a new city comes with an extra set of factors to consider. Moving in the immediate future might not be possible for you, but it could be something to think about for the future. Or not. Relocating isn’t the right choice for everyone, and eventually metros that are suffering right now will rebound. Simply knowing what’s happening your local job market can help your job search because you know what you’re up against.

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