With the release of metro area nonfarm payroll employment figures for December, we can compare the rate of job growth over the course of 2016. The table below shows the top 10 rates of 2016 job growth for metro areas with populations greater than 1 million (as of the 2010 census), and the change in employment since December, 2007 (the table also includes corresponding figures for national employment growth, for comparison). The sparkline chart on the right side of the table includes a bar for each year (2008 through 2016) showing the percent change in employment since 2007.
At the top of the list, with employment growth of 4.2% (three times the national growth rate) is Orlando, Florida. The next three top growth rates are for the Salt Lake City, San Jose, and Seattle-Tacoma metro areas, tied at 3.4%. Next in this ranking are Jacksonville, Florida and Dallas-Fort Worth at 3.3%, followed by Denver and Sacramento at 3.2%. Atlanta, tenth in this top 10 list at 2.7%, saw employment growth almost double the national rate.
When looking at the change in employment growth since 2007, seven of these top 10 are at 10% or more, with San Jose, California posting the highest rate of 18.1%. Atlanta and Jacksonville, though they’ve seen less than 10% employment growth since 2007, are both significantly above the national rate of 4.9%. Only Sacramento, California at 3.7% has seen a lower rate of growth since 2007 than the national rate.
Moving on to metro areas with populations between 500,000 and 1 million:
At the top of this list are Sarasota, Florida and Provo, Utah both with 3.8% employment growth in 2016. Next are Spokane, Washington (3.6%), Boise, Idaho and Deltona, Florida (both at 3.5%).
When looking at the change in employment growth since 2007, half of this group has seen 10% or more, with Provo, UT posting a very healthy 22.9% (over four times the national rate). Not so far behind is McAllen, Texas with 18.4%. Only two of these top ten, Spokane, Washington and Deltona, Florida are showing lower growth since 2007 than the national rate of 4.9%.
Below is the top 10 list for metro areas with populations between 200,000 and 500,000:
Prescott, Arizona tops this list with 50%, followed closely by Ann Arbor, Michigan at 4.8%.
As we saw above with, half of this group has seen employment growth of 10% or more since 2007, with College Station, Texas posting 22.2%. However, Reno, Nevada, despite healthy employment growth of 3.4% in 2016 is still 0.5% below its 2007 level of employment. Prescott, Arizona, with 5% employment growth in 2016, has seen only 1.2% employment growth since 2007.
When looking these three tables, showing where metro area employment growth was highest in 2016, we can see that roughly half (and more than half for the top ten of metros with populations of 1 million or more) have seen relatively strong growth since 2007. The other half have seen employment growth recover more slowly and/or more recently over the course of the great recession. The red and blue bars in the sparkline charts convey this visually.
Also apparent from these three top then lists is that metro employment growth in 2016 was strongest in the West, particularly California, Washington, and Utah, and warm weather states, mostly Texas and Florida. Notably absent are metro areas in the Northeast and most of Midwest (two smaller midwestern cities, Ann Arbor, Michigan and Sioux Falls, South Dakota are in the top ten for metro areas with population between 200,000 and 500,000).