Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Metro Job Recovery in 2011

The latest BLS release for metro area unemployment has full year averages for 2011 available, so we can see which cities added the most jobs last year. On the whole, it was a much better year for metros than we’ve seen in the recent past. The national economy added jobs, and all but two large metros did as well. New York City added the most jobs of any region, but given that it is far and away the biggest city in America, it should do so. NYC ranked only the middle of the pack on a percentage growth basis. On that measure, Austin, Texas was number one.

The top percentage gainer in the Midwest region? Detroit, Michigan. Perhaps this shouldn’t be surprising either, as manufacturing is pro-cyclical.

Here is the performance of the metro areas in the United States with more than one million people, ranked by percentage change. The data is also available in spreadsheet form.

I should also mention that the analysis for this was done in next to no time using my data platform Telestrian, which I’d encourage you to try out if you haven’t already.

Rank Metro Area 2010 2011 Total Change Pct Change
1 Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, TX 769.5 791.4 21.9 2.85%
2 San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA 855.2 878.2 23.0 2.69%
3 Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX 2528.1 2593.1 65.0 2.57%
4 Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SC 807.5 826.7 19.2 2.38%
5 Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN 734.3 751.7 17.4 2.37%
6 Salt Lake City, UT 608.1 622.0 13.9 2.29%
7 Detroit-Warren-Livonia, MI 1737.1 1775.3 38.2 2.20%
8 Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 2860.9 2921.7 60.8 2.13%
9 Raleigh-Cary, NC 498.1 508.6 10.5 2.11%
10 Pittsburgh, PA 1125.3 1148.6 23.3 2.07%
11 Oklahoma City, OK 558.5 569.6 11.1 1.99%
12 Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL 1112.0 1132.3 20.3 1.83%
13 Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA 968.8 986.1 17.3 1.79%
14 Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI 1697.1 1727.1 30.0 1.77%
15 Baltimore-Towson, MD 1274.0 1293.5 19.5 1.53%
16 Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA 1641.2 1666.1 24.9 1.52%
17 Denver-Aurora-Broomfield, CO 1193.5 1211.6 18.1 1.52%
18 Columbus, OH 903.3 916.9 13.6 1.51%
19 Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL 2185.6 2218.3 32.7 1.50%
20 Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, AZ 1688.9 1712.8 23.9 1.42%
21 Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA 2272.6 2302.9 30.3 1.33%
22 New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, LA 519.1 526.0 6.9 1.33%
23 San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX 843.0 853.2 10.2 1.21%
24 Richmond, VA 602.4 609.5 7.1 1.18%
25 New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA 8306.8 8403.9 97.1 1.17%
26 Indianapolis-Carmel, IN 871.1 881.2 10.1 1.16%
27 Jacksonville, FL 583.1 589.6 6.5 1.11%
28 Rochester, NY 503.1 508.7 5.6 1.11%
29 Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV 2962.9 2995.5 32.6 1.10%
30 Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT – Metro 533.2 538.9 5.7 1.07%
31 Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL-IN-WI 4246.6 4291.4 44.8 1.05%
32 Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI 805.8 814.1 8.3 1.03%
33 Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN 592.9 599.0 6.1 1.03%
34 Kansas City, MO-KS 971.6 981.4 9.8 1.01%
35 Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL 1001.1 1011.0 9.9 0.99%
36 Memphis, TN-MS-AR 589.8 595.4 5.6 0.95%
37 Cincinnati-Middletown, OH-KY-IN 980.8 989.4 8.6 0.88%
38 Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY 538.2 542.7 4.5 0.84%
39 San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA 1880.2 1894.3 14.1 0.75%
40 Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH – Metro 2426.5 2443.3 16.8 0.69%
41 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA 5126.8 5162.2 35.4 0.69%
42 San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA 1222.8 1231.2 8.4 0.69%
43 St. Louis, MO-IL 1286.9 1295.4 8.5 0.66%
44 Las Vegas-Paradise, NV 803.6 808.3 4.7 0.58%
45 Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA 1125.9 1129.7 3.8 0.34%
46 Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD 2697.0 2705.9 8.9 0.33%
47 Providence-Fall River-Warwick, RI-MA – Metro 541.3 542.8 1.5 0.28%
48 Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC 735.2 736.8 1.6 0.22%
49 Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, OH 991.1 992.7 1.6 0.16%
50 Birmingham-Hoover, AL 489.5 488.6 -0.9 -0.18%
51 Sacramento–Arden-Arcade–Roseville, CA 809.9 802.0 -7.9 -0.98%

Topics: Economic Development

27 Responses to “Metro Job Recovery in 2011”

  1. Matthew Hall says:

    I’m confused. These BLS numbers for total payroll by metro are different. What is your source? For example, you list that Columbus, OH added 13,600 jobs in 2011 while the link I’ve included lists Columbus loosing 24,000 jobs from december 2010 to december 2011 for a total metro payroll of 946,000 as opposed to the 916,000 you list. Are these measuring different things?

  2. Matthew Hall says:

    This shows Columbus, OH adding only 800 jobs in 2011.

    How can we reconcile these different measures of employment?

  3. Matthew, the first link you posted is based on the monthly, not seasonally adjusted figures for December 2011. The data I posted is based on annual averages. As for the second link, they also appear to be using the monthly data, but it’s not clear to me how they went about calculating their figures.

  4. John Morris says:

    LOL, nobody really knows how the BLS calcualtes their figures. A big factor is the so called “birth/ death” estimate of how many busineeses are created vs destroyed.
    They move this number according to where they think we are in the economic cycle but don’t give details as to how they come up with it.

    Given the often huge backward ajustments, I don’t think we can take the BLS seriously.

  5. John, I believe the CES data that reports jobs is heavily based on the number of employees for which unemployment insurance is being paid, which should be a pretty hard number.

  6. Matthew Hall says:

    I’m not clear on seasonal adjustment and why it would affect different metros differently. Does employment vary more seasonally in Columbus versus Cincinnati, for example. Your numbers show columbus added 13,600 jobs and Cincy 8,600 in 2011, but the monthly BLS numbers I cited show columbus added only 800 net jobs and cincy 16,100 in 2011. Any insight on how to understand these numbers would be appreciated.

  7. You are looking at the numbers for a single month. The data series I am using is the average for all twelve months.

  8. Matthew Hall says:

    I have to admit that I simply don’t understand why the average of monthly job growth over 12 months is more useful than the net total annual employment growth in that year. I have a lot to learn about these employment measures.

    I still think it is valuable to know the overall size of a metro’s employment given the potentionally politicized nature of employment data. There are differences there too. The CES data I linked to gave cincinnati 1,100,000 total private jobs and columbus 946,000 while the numbers above are 989,000 and 919,000 for cincinnati and columbus respectively. Is there anything useful in these different in total job markets?

  9. John Morris says:

    Something is rotten in these numbers. Many of the California cities show increases in employment while the stae as a whole has seen really huge declines in personal income tax revenues.

  10. John Morris says:

    Yes, on a nationwide basis, increased state income tax reciepts do confirm some recovery.

    Income tax numbers are pretty hard.

  11. Rod Stevens says:

    Interesting numbers. At first glance, I couldn’t tell what I’d rather have, absolute or percentage growth. Ideally, I’d like to have a very solid base, decent percentage growth, and then good absolute growth. And then it hit me: I’d rather not have big ups and downs but steady growth, so the other thing I’d like is low volatility. Any way to measure that, based on the available time series?

  12. Bow317 says:

    Rather confusing. Not sure this is very clear to me.

  13. Matthew Hall says:

    This is all confusing to local media,as well. I can’t find the link, but Cincinnnatians have been told that there were anywhere between 9,000 and 16,100 net new jobs in 2011 in their area.

    This one says 10,800 more jobs in their area than a year before,

    While this chart suggests Columbus has had almost no net new jobs in the last year and Cincinnati has far more job growth in 2011. numbers suggest that these characterizations are wrong.

    These numbers are different as well.

    This table directly from BLS has much higher total labor force numbers for many metros than the numbers above.

    What is the average person to make of all this?

  14. Peter says:

    The problem is all these news outlets are probably reporting different data. Aaron put up average annual total non-farm employment numbers. Someone may post January year over year numbers. Others may discuss the employment numbers from the household survey, which are probably the least important.

  15. Matthew Hall says:

    I don’t understand what is being averaged. If jobs grew 6% in january and 3% in february, the average is 4.5% growth for the two months. The total increase is still the same. I realize that seasonality and other factors may be important, but the raw job numbers can still be useful for the general public to know. Where can we find the unadjusted net changes in total jobs by metro?

  16. Matthew Hall says:

    Thanks Peter. The difference appears to be between the number of people working and the numbers of jobs. The former being larger than the latter for all the metros I looked at. Is the difference explained by part-time, temporary work, and people with more than one job?

    So, for example, Cincinnati’s MSA had 2.1% more total jobs in January 2012 than it had in January 2011, while columbus had 1.6% more in January 2012 than it had had a year earlier. That must be what the media has been refering to. Still, these numbers vary a little from Aaron’s and more substantially from some of the reports I linked to above. Measuring employment is harder than I’d realized, but understandably so. Thanks for highlighting this issue Aaron.

  17. Peter says:

    I am not an expert, but I believe the employment numbers include farms, and self employed. It’s from a survey the Gov of households. The Non-farm payroll numbers are from employers and is typically viewed as more informative than the employment numbers.

  18. Matthew Hall says:

    The cincy and columbus numbers for total jobs that I metioned are listed as “non-farm wage and salary employment”, but the definition says nothing about self-employed. As a self-employed person myself, I think self-employed make valuable contributions to their metro economies. Bill Gates was self-employed in his early years. That turned out well for Seattle.

  19. John Morris says:

    Yes. measuring employment is actually pretty hard.

    As a former business owner who lost money most years-the “are you employed” question was almost a philosophical one. Yes, I was working, but no, I wasn’t earning money. Obviously farmers face that every year.

    The dumb thing is that the media take these figures as the last word of god.

  20. John Morris says:

    I goes to the basic fallacy behind all central planning which that you know what’s really going on and have access to all the world’s relevant data. You don’t.

  21. John Morris says:

    One thing that really interests me is that so few independent polling or research firms try to do their own surveys.

    The original BLS figures are based on a survey of the kind, independent firms could do. Gallup has been doing that and coming up with very different numbers.

    My guess, is that nobody wants to look under the hood.

  22. Gallup does do their survey. ADP also publishes payroll numbers. However, the government has been doing this a long time and actually has expertise in it.

  23. John Morris says:

    LOL, like everything else.

    The very fact that so few firms attempt this gives one a very slim base to cross check for accuracy.

    The initial monthly data should not be so widely reported as factual. Backward revisions are almost always ignored.

  24. Those numbers have absolutely nothing in common with the state of North Carolina employment numbers for MSAs.


    Besides, the relevant question is which metros have recovered to pre-recession employment levels? Any?

  25. Matthew Hall says:

    Here is what the local cincinnati press is telling locals about their economy.

    This states that Cincinnati gained more than 23,000 jobs since January 2010 while the numbers above list only 8,600 jobs in 2010 and 2011. That is a big difference, unless cincinnati gained 17,000 jobs in the first two months of 2012, which I’m sure it didn’t. What are we to make of all these different numbers?

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