Annual Job Gains Slowing in Top Markets

Annual job gains in the top markets in the country are beginning to slow under the weight of elevated inflation, consumer and business caution, and a potential recession on the horizon. However, the jobs numbers are still generally strong as gains earlier in the year bolster annual totals.

The total number of jobs gained in the top 10 markets RealPage tracks for the year-ending November, was about 104,000 jobs less than the total for the same 10 markets in November of last year, according to the latest release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Additionally, the total for the top 10 markets is about 4% below last month’s total and seven of the top 10 were lower than last month.

Nine of last month’s top 10 markets returned to this month’s list but several markets changed rankings.

New York once again led the nation in annual gains but the market’s annual gain of 307,600 jobs is trending downward. That total is about 17,000 fewer new jobs than October’s annual gain. Dallas moved up two spots to #2 with an annual gain of 194,100 jobs.

Los Angeles and Houston slipped one spot each to make room for Dallas but while Los Angeles’ gain of 193,800 jobs is only about 3,000 fewer than last month, Houston’s total of 176,300 jobs gained fell by almost 18,000 from October’s total. Chicago and Atlanta remained in the #5 and #6 spots again, but each were about 9,000 to 15,000 jobs lower than last month. Still, November gains of 158,000 and 138,200 jobs, respectively, are quite strong.

Boston, Philadelphia and Phoenix each returned in their respective spots from October at #7 through #9 but annual gains improved by 9,000 jobs in Boston (to 124,900), while Philadelphia (96,700 jobs) gained about 2,300 fewer jobs compared to October. Phoenix’s total of 90,200 jobs was almost the same as last month.

Seattle replaced Riverside at the #10 spot on November’s top 10 list with an annual gain of 82,500 jobs, about even with the October total.

These month-over-month comparisons of not seasonally adjusted labor data from the BLS can sometimes be misleading, but nonetheless give an idea of overall trends. In November, 55 of our top 150 markets had higher annual job gains than in October compared to 66 in August.

Six of the top 10 markets were lower than one year ago and half of the next 10 markets had lower annual job gain totals than in November 2021 as well. As mentioned, seven of the top 10 markets had fewer jobs gained than in October.

However, with these ongoing job gains, the positive momentum that has helped many markets recover all the jobs lost early in the pandemic recession continues. In November, 121 of our top 150 markets had returned to or bettered their February 2020 employment level, 8 more than last month. Of the top 10 job gain markets, all have reached their pre-pandemic employment levels with New York and Los Angeles finally regaining their lost jobs.

Just one of the next 10 top 150 markets ranked by November job gains is below their pre-pandemic employment base, one less than last month. San Francisco is only 500 jobs short of recovery. 
Seven markets had annual job gains of 100,000 or more, equal to October as job gains are slowing. Another 19 markets gained between 50,000 and 99,999 jobs, one less than last month. Only Jackson, MS reported an annual job loss from last November.

Like annual job gains, the annual percentage change in employment slowed in several of the top 10 from last year and even more slowed from last month. Seven of October’s top 10 returned in November with two of the new markets considered major.

Dallas led the nation in percent change in employment for the year-ending November with growth of 6.8%, down 10 basis points (bps) from October. Charleston remained at the #2 spot with annual growth of 6.6%, a slight 10 bps increase from one month ago. Portland, ME jumped onto the top list at the #3 spot, improving 80 bps from October and registering a strong 6% growth rate.

Houston saw a 60-bps slip from last month but remained in the #4 spot with 5.6% growth. Charlotte moved up one spot to #5 despite annual job growth dipping by 40 bps to 5.3%. Nashville moved down a spot to #6 with annual growth of 5.2%, down 70 bps from October.

Tampa jumped onto the top job growth markets list at #7 with 5.1% growth, replacing Fort Worth, and San Francisco followed at #8 with 4.9% growth, down 50 bps from October. Portland, OR and Las Vegas tied at #9 with 4.8% annual employment growth, but Portland fell 60 bps for the month while Las Vegas gained 10 bps.

Falling off October’s top job growth markets list were Miami (last month’s #3), Fort Worth, and Riverside.

Of the top 10 growth markets, Portland, ME, Charlotte, and Charleston were markets with the steepest gains in employment growth compared to one year ago, rising 450, 240, and 210 bps from November 2021. In spite of regaining a top 10 ranking for annual job growth, Las Vegas’ annual growth is 670 bps lower than one year ago.

In addition to the top 10, strong job growth markets include: San Antonio, Miami, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Seattle, and San Jose. Sixty-five markets had annual job growth rates above the not seasonally adjusted national average of 3.2%, one more than in October.

The weakest major markets for percentage growth are still primarily in the industrial Midwest and Deep South. Major markets with sub-2% growth include Milwaukee, Dayton, Chattanooga, Albuquerque, Des Moines, Cincinnati, and Columbus.