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What’s it take to be a City Labor Market Leader?

May 28, 2015

Today’s Economy at a Glance compares and ranks city labor markets in 42 U.S. metro statistical areas (MSAs) and 33 Canadian census metropolitan areas (CMAs).

05 28 Canada and US City Labor Markets Graphic

MSA and CMA boundaries include urban cores plus surrounding suburbs that have close back-and-forth commuter flow relationships.

The two most powerful labor market indicators are the unemployment rate and the year-over-year percentage change in number of jobs. It’s not enough to look at just one or the other.

A city with a strong year-over-year record of employment growth, but a high jobless rate, may not be as favorable a labor market as one with a slower rate of jobs growth, but a really low unemployment rate.

Therefore, in preparing this material − separately for each country − I ranked the cities according to: 1) their most recent unemployment rates (lowest to highest); and 2) their year-over-year employment changes (fastest to slowest).

This produced four tables – i.e., two for the U.S. and two for Canada.

Then I did something neither complicated nor terribly sophisticated, but it does yield revealing results. I simply calculated the average ranking for each city and used that number to derive a new ‘composite’ ranking, as shown in accompanying Tables 1 and 2. 

Before discussing the results, there’s a matter that should be cleared up. Publication of broad-strokes (i.e., national) labor market data for the U.S. and Canada is almost always for the same month. In fact, the reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Statistics Canada usually come out on the identical Friday morning.

But U.S. city labor market data is held back by a month, explaining why the information in Table 1 is for March and in Table 2, it is for April.

According to the foregoing criteria, Salt Lake City and San Jose are in a tie for best labor market among America’s major cities. Salt Lake City has an impressively low 3.5% unemployment rate, versus the national average figure of 5.4%.

On that count, San Jose is no slouch either with a jobless level of only 4.2%. But San Jose’s bigger claim to fame is its year-over-year employment gain of +5.5%, compared with the country-as-a-whole’s performance of +2.2%.

No other big city in the U.S. has created jobs faster over the past year than the high-tech ‘hot-bed’ of San Jose.

After the two leaders, the Top 10 in Table 1 is dominated by the four major cities in Texas.

In the months ahead, the drop in world oil prices may take an increasing toll on drilling activity and upstream investments, but downstream projects (e.g., petrochemical plants, LNG exporting facilities) will receive a boost.

The appearances of Denver, San Francisco and Seattle in the Top 10 are to be expected, given the ongoing strength in knowledge-based sectors, as witnessed by NASDAQ’s onrushing index gains; but Orlando’s presence is a shocker.

At +4.6%, Orlando is currently second overall in year-over-year job creation. There are record levels of crowds visiting, for the first time, and returning to theme park attractions in the area.

Also in Florida, Miami is generating jobs at a rapid pace, +3.8% year over year. But it will take both Orlando and Miami a while to fully recover from the high jobless rates they racked up during the Great Recession.

Some other highlights from Table 1 include the following. The Southeast city with the highest ranking is Charlotte (12). But maybe its competitor for attention in the region, Atlanta (25), will receive a boost from Charter Cable’s pursuit of Time Warner Cable. The billionaire at the head of Charter (and Sirius XM Radio), John Malone, is the owner of Major League Baseball’s Atlanta Braves. (If Charter is successful, only Comcast will be bigger in the TV cable business.) 

Minneapolis-St. Paul is quietly doing very well, thank you, in position number 15. It has an unemployment rate of only 4.0%.

The nation’s capital, Washington (25), is tied with Atlanta, about two-thirds of the way down the listing. Note, however, that this overlooks whatever peripheral benefits there may be from working for the government.

At the lower end of the scale, Detroit (32) isn’t buried as deeply as one might suppose. In fact, it has a rating that’s ahead of such other major centers as New York (34), Philadelphia (35), Pittsburgh (36) and Chicago (39).

In Table 2 (derived from Cansim Table 282-0135), Canada’s composite labor market ranking is headed by Guelph, where firms are increasingly integrating high-tech expertise with industrial processes (e.g., solar panel manufacturing).

While all the U.S. cities in Table 1 have populations of more than a million each, there are only six such centers in Canada. Among those half dozen, Calgary’s labor market is tops, although similar to oil-focused cities in Texas, it may be vulnerable in the months ahead.

As for the other five major population centers, Edmonton’s ranking (14) is still respectable, but Vancouver (20), Ottawa-Gatineau (24), Montreal (26) and Toronto (29) are faltering.  

Click here to view Alex Carrick's AEC Café 2015 AIA Convention Video.

 

TABLE 1: COMPOSITE RANKING OF
U.S. CITY LABOUR MARKETS
BEST (#1) TO WORST (#42) − MARCH 2015
1 Salt Lake City, UT  
1 San Jose, CA  
3 Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX  
4 San Antonio, TX  
5 Denver, CO  
6 San Francisco, CA  
7 Orlando, FL  
8 Seattle, WA  
9 Houston, TX  
10 Austin, TX  
11 Oklahoma City, OK  
12 Charlotte, NC  
13 Miami, FL  
13 Phoenix, AZ  
15 Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN  
15 San Diego, CA  
17 Columbus, OH  
17 Nashville, TN  
19 Portland, OR  
19 Tampa, FL  
21 Boston, MA  
21 Riverside, CA  
23 Jacksonville, FL  
23 Kansas City, MO  
25 Atlanta, GA  
25 Washington, DC  
27 Indianapolis, IN  
28 Cincinnati, OH  
29 Los Angeles, CA  
30 Richmond, VA  
31 Las Vegas, NV  
32 Detroit, MI  
33 Cleveland, OH  
34 New York, NY  
35 Philadelphia, PA  
36 Pittsburgh, PA  
37 Baltimore, MD  
37 Milwaukee, WI  
39 Chicago, IL  
40 St. Louis, MO  
41 Providence, RI  
42 New Orleans, LA  
Based on job growth (highest to lowest) and unemployment rate (lowest to highest).
When the ranking numbers are the same, the cities are in a tie.
Data source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Table: CMD.
RANKING OF MAJOR U.S. CITIES
RANKING OF MAJOR U.S. CITIES
BY YEAR-OVER-YEAR EMPLOYMENT GROWTH
BY LATEST UNEMPLOYMENT RATE
(highest to lowest)
(lowest to highest)
MARCH 2015 vs MARCH 2014
MARCH 2015
1 San Jose, CA 5.5% 1 Austin, TX 3.3%
2 Orlando, FL 4.6% 1 Oklahoma City, OK 3.3%
3 Riverside, CA 4.2% 3 Salt Lake City, UT 3.5%
4 Miami, FL 3.8% 4 San Antonio, TX 3.7%
5 Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX 3.6% 5 Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX 4.0%
5 Denver, CO 3.6% 5 Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN 4.0%
5 Salt Lake City, UT 3.6% 7 Houston, TX 4.2%
8 Charlotte, NC 3.5% 7 San Francisco, CA 4.2%
8 Seattle, WA 3.5% 7 San Jose, CA 4.2%
10 San Antonio, TX 3.4% 10 Denver, CO 4.3%
10 San Francisco, CA 3.4% 11 Boston, MA 4.4%
12 Atlanta, GA 3.3% 11 Columbus, OH 4.4%
13 San Diego, CA 3.1% 13 Nashville, TN 4.6%
14 Los Angeles, CA 3.0% 13 Seattle, WA 4.6%
14 Phoenix, AZ 3.0% 15 Washington, DC 4.7%
16 Houston, TX 2.9% 16 Cincinnati, OH 4.8%
16 Las Vegas, NV 2.9% 16 Phoenix, AZ 4.8%
16 Portland, OR 2.9% 18 Orlando, FL 5.1%
16 Tampa, FL 2.9% 18 San Diego, CA 5.1%
20 Indianapolis, IN 2.7% 20 Richmond, VA 5.2%
20 Jacksonville, FL 2.7% 21 Charlotte, NC 5.3%
20 Kansas City, MO 2.7% 21 Portland, OR 5.3%
23 Nashville, TN 2.6% 21 Tampa, FL 5.3%
24 Austin, TX 2.5% 24 Jacksonville, FL 5.4%
25 Columbus, OH 2.2% 24 Kansas City, MO 5.4%
26 Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN 2.1% 26 Indianapolis, IN 5.5%
27 Detroit, MI 2.0% 26 Miami, FL 5.5%
27 Oklahoma City, OK 2.0% 26 Pittsburgh, PA 5.5%
29 New York, NY 1.7% 29 Milwaukee, WI 5.6%
30 Washington, DC 1.6% 29 Philadelphia, PA 5.6%
31 Boston, MA 1.5% 31 Baltimore, MD 5.7%
32 Chicago, IL 1.4% 31 Cleveland, OH 5.7%
32 Cincinnati, OH 1.4% 33 Atlanta, GA 5.9%
32 Cleveland, OH 1.4% 33 St. Louis, MO 5.9%
32 Providence, RI 1.4% 35 Detroit, MI 6.0%
36 Philadelphia, PA 1.3% 35 New York, NY 6.0%
36 Richmond, VA 1.3% 37 New Orleans, LA 6.2%
38 Baltimore, MD 1.1% 38 Chicago, IL 6.4%
38 St. Louis, MO 1.1% 39 Riverside, CA 6.5%
40 Milwaukee, WI 0.5% 40 Los Angeles, CA 6.6%
41 Pittsburgh, PA 0.4% 41 Providence, RI 6.8%
42 New Orleans, LA -0.1% 42 Las Vegas, NV 7.2%
U.S. 2.2% U.S. 5.4%
 
Based on average of latest three months, unadjusted data.
When the ranking numbers are the same, the cities are in a tie.
Data source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Tables: CMD.
TABLE 2: COMPOSITE RANKING OF
CANADIAN CITY LABOUR MARKETS
BEST (#1) TO WORST (#33) − APRIL 2015
1 Guelph, ON  
2 Brantford, ON  
3 Kelowna, BC  
4 Calgary, AB  
5 Regina, SK  
6 Trois-Rivières, QC  
7 Saskatoon, SK  
8 Kitchener, ON  
9 Winnipeg, MB  
10 Abbotsford, BC  
11 Sudbury, ON  
12 Saguenay, QC  
12 Québec City, QC  
14 Thunder Bay, ON  
14 Edmonton, AB  
16 Sherbrooke, QC  
17 London, ON  
17 Hamilton, ON  
19 Peterborough, ON  
20 St. Catharines-Niagara, ON  
20 Vancouver, BC  
22 Windsor, ON  
22 St. John’s, NL  
24 Ottawa-Gatineau, ON-QC  
25 Barrie, ON  
26 Halifax, NS  
26 Montréal, QC  
28 Victoria, BC  
29 Oshawa, ON  
29 Toronto, ON  
31 Moncton, NB  
32 Kingston, ON  
33 Saint John, NB  
Based on job growth (highest to lowest) and unemployment rate (lowest to highest).
When the ranking numbers are the same, the cities are in a tie.
Data source: Statistics Canada.
Table: CMD.
RANKING OF MAJOR CANADIAN CITIES
RANKING OF MAJOR CANADIAN CITIES
BY YEAR-OVER-YEAR EMPLOYMENT GROWTH
BY LATEST UNEMPLOYMENT RATE
(highest to lowest)
(lowest to highest)
april 2015 vs april 2014
april 2015
1 Guelph, ON 15.6% 1 Guelph, ON 4.1%
2 Saguenay, QC 7.5% 2 Kelowna, BC 4.1%
3 Brantford, ON 6.9% 3 Thunder Bay, ON 4.7%
4 Peterborough, ON 6.0% 4 Regina, SK 4.7%
5 Calgary, AB 4.6% 5 Québec City, QC 5.0%
6 Windsor, ON 4.4% 6 Saskatoon, SK 5.1%
7 Trois-Rivières, QC 4.3% 6 Hamilton, ON 5.2%
8 Sudbury, ON 3.1% 8 Brantford, ON 5.2%
9 Winnipeg, MB 3.1% 8 Calgary, AB 5.3%
10 Kelowna, BC 2.6% 10 Edmonton, AB 5.8%
11 Sherbrooke, QC 2.5% 11 Kitchener, ON 6.0%
12 Kitchener, ON 2.3% 12 Abbotsford, BC 6.0%
13 Abbotsford, BC 2.3% 13 Trois-Rivières, QC 6.1%
14 Regina, SK 2.0% 14 Winnipeg, MB 6.1%
15 Saskatoon, SK 1.9% 15 Vancouver, BC 6.1%
16 London, ON 1.7% 16 Victoria, BC 6.1%
17 Barrie, ON 1.7% 17 St. John’s, NL 6.4%
18 Oshawa, ON 1.6% 17 St. Catharines-Niagara, ON 6.4%
19 Montréal, QC 1.4% 19 London, ON 6.5%
19 St. Catharines-Niagara, ON 1.4% 20 Sudbury, ON 6.6%
21 Ottawa-Gatineau, ON-QC 1.1% 21 Halifax, NS 6.8%
22 Edmonton, AB 1.0% 21 Sherbrooke, QC 6.9%
23 St. John’s, NL 0.6% 23 Ottawa-Gatineau, ON-QC 6.9%
24 Vancouver, BC 0.3% 24 Moncton, NB 7.2%
25 Halifax, NS 0.1% 25 Kingston, ON 7.2%
26 Québec City, QC -0.2% 26 Toronto, ON 7.3%
27 Toronto, ON -0.3% 27 Montréal, QC 7.7%
28 Thunder Bay, ON -0.7% 28 Barrie, ON 7.8%
28 Saint John, NB -0.8% 28 Saguenay, QC 7.9%
30 Hamilton, ON -0.8% 30 Oshawa, ON 7.9%
31 Victoria, BC -1.7% 31 Saint John, NB 8.1%
32 Moncton, NB -2.3% 32 Peterborough, ON 8.1%
33 Kingston, ON -2.8% 33 Windsor, ON 11.5%
Canada 0.8% Canada 6.8%
 
Based on average of latest three months, unadjusted data.
When the ranking numbers are the same, the cities are in a tie.
Data source: Statistics Canada.
Tables: CMD.


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