Provo, Houston, Raleigh Ranked Top Labor Markets

By Roy Maurer Feb 9, 2015

The Provo-Orem, Utah, area—with its low unemployment and a booming tech sector—was rated the No. 1 labor market among the 150 largest U.S. metropolitan areas in CareerBuilder’s inaugural labor market rankings.

The quarterly Labor Market 150 Index, launched by CareerBuilder and based on data compiled by Economic Modeling Specialists Intl., a CareerBuilder company, is comprised of several historical and leading indicators that measure the overall dynamism of metropolitan job markets. Employment levels, unemployment rates, growth projections, job listings and the abundance of high-paying new jobs are all factors in the ranking, according to the talent solutions company.

“The Labor Market 150 Index offers a balanced, holistic view of the current state of U.S. labor markets,” said Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder. “We know the economy is improving nationwide, but the index helps identify regions and cities driving the recovery, as well as those struggling to rebound. Metros with low unemployment and growth in good-paying occupations are ranked high, as well as metros projected to grow through the end of the decade and currently seeing new job openings on the rise.”

Provo-Orem stands above its peers with an overall score of 78.8 out of 100, well above second-ranked Houston’s score of 64.6. Among the top 150 metros, it is ranked No. 1 in overall employment growth, quality employment and unemployment rate (tied with Minneapolis-St. Paul and Omaha, Neb.).

Since the 2007-09 recession, second-ranked Houston has performed the best among the largest metros, according to the index. The growth of high-skilled science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) employment boosted Raleigh, N.C., and Salt Lake City to the third and fourth positions on the index, respectively. The Fayetteville-Springdale, Ark., metro took the fifth spot due to low unemployment and an expansion of its corporate management sector, according to the index.

Austin-Round Rock, Texas (6th); Port St. Lucie, Fla., (7th); Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, S.C., (8th); Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, Fla., (9th); and Lafayette, La., rounded out the top 10.

Tech Centers Ranked High

Metros with a large share of STEM jobs typically ranked higher on the index. In addition to tech-oriented Provo-Orem, Raleigh, Salt Lake City and Austin-Round Rock, other areas with growing industries reliant on technology jobs ranked high: San Francisco-Oakland (14th), San Jose-Sunnyvale (15th) and Seattle (16th).

Large Metros Ranked Poorly

With the exception of Houston at No. 2, the country’s largest metros did not fare well in the rankings. Dallas-Fort Worth ranked No. 33, Boston No. 34, Los Angeles sits at No. 87, the New York City metro at No. 90 and Washington, D.C., at No. 97. Chicago ranked the lowest among the large metros, at No. 120. According to the index analysis, these areas tend to have anemic employment growth and higher unemployment rates.

Recession Continues to Bleed Bottom-Ranked Markets

The metros at the bottom of the list— Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Fla., Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, N.C., and Tallahassee, Fla.—were hit hard by the recession and did not recover quickly, according to CareerBuilder. In many cases, each market’s key industries continued to shed jobs after 2009, particularly in manufacturing, real estate and government jobs.

Energy, Manufacturing Produce Most New Solid-Paying Jobs

Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas, ranked first in growing occupations with median hourly earnings above the living wage, with 71 percent of new jobs falling into this category. The energy-driven metro saw sizable growth among welders, industrial machinery mechanics, chemical plant operators and other skilled occupations, according to the index.

The rest of the top five in this category are strongly concentrated in manufacturing: Reading, Penn., Detroit, Peoria, Ill., and Rockford, Ill.

Future Conditions

The index measures potential future labor market conditions by looking at job postings growth. Newhaven-Milford, Conn., ranked first in job listings growth, supported by high activity among several IT and health care occupations. Providence-Warwick, R.I.-Mass., took the No. 2 spot, with increases in management, finance and sales occupations.

And even though Houston had a high overall ranking, job listings in the metro area have seen a significant slowdown recently, according to CareerBuilder.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.Follow him @SHRMRoy


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