Major Markets Continue Adding Jobs During Recovery

Every major market tracked by RealPage added jobs in the year-ending May, including last month’s laggard Midland/Odessa, TX. However, across most markets, employment recovery is slowing from the spikes seen in April.

The national rebound lessened in May as well, slipping from 14.2 million jobs regained in the year-ending April to 11.9 million jobs in the year-ending May, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Expect continuing normalization of annual job gain trends going forward, both nationally and for individual markets.

Nine of last month’s top 10 markets for job gains returned to the list in May. New York’s annual gain of 628,000 jobs was down from April’s gain of 664,400, but led the nation, nonetheless. Detroit and Chicago regained 318,500 and 303,700 jobs, respectively, while Los Angeles edged out Philadelphia for the #4 spot with a gain of 294,000 jobs.

Philadelphia regained close to 266,000 jobs that were lost during the pandemic, ranking it #5, as additional eastern seaboard markets Boston and Washington, DC regained 252,900 and 207,100 jobs apiece. Los Angeles and Washington, DC were the only top 10 markets that had annual employment gains that were close to April’s totals.

Dallas remained in the #8 spot on May’s list, regaining 191,200 jobs while Atlanta fell from #7 in April to #9 in May with a gain of 187,500 jobs. Las Vegas replaced the New York area metro division of Nassau County-Suffolk County (Long Island) at the #10 spot as Sin City regained 165,800 jobs, almost 90,000 of them in the Leisure and Hospitality industry.

Despite significant gains in employment in the past year, all the top 10 job gain markets are still below their pre-pandemic employment levels. Dallas has regained the most ground and is now only 1.8% below February 2020 employment, while New York and Los Angeles are each a little more than 9% down. Las Vegas is still 10.4% below pre-pandemic levels with the remaining top 10 markets falling between 4% and 6% behind the February 2020 workforce.

Nine of the 150 markets RealPage tracks have regained all the jobs lost during the pandemic, with Salt Lake City the only major market among them. Austin, Jacksonville, Kansas City, and Memphis are within 1.5% of their pre-pandemic employment levels. Markets that still have a long road to full recovery include: Midland/Odessa, Urban Honolulu, New Orleans, and Orlando. Each are still 10% or more below their February 2020 employment levels.

On a month-over-month basis, Orlando had the biggest improvement in annual job gain with almost 60,000 jobs added to the annual total for May. Anaheim improved by more than 25,000 jobs with Las Vegas (+15,500 jobs) and Seattle (+12,200 jobs) following. The biggest declines in annual job gains from April were in Atlanta (-62,000 jobs), Detroit (-60,300 jobs), Phoenix (-49,500 jobs) and Houston (-48,400 jobs).

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 addition to the markets listed above, Nassau County-Suffolk County, Dallas, Philadelphia, Tampa and Columbus, OH had declines of about 40,000 jobs or more compared to last month.

As job gain spikes receded, 22 markets had annual job gains of 100,000 or more compared to 32 in April, including the top 10. Another 29 markets gained between 50,000 and 99,999 jobs. None of the top 150 markets had annual job loss as of May.

Annual percentage change in employment continues to be strong but moderating job gains caused the top performers to see reduced job growth as well. Eight of April’s top 10 returned in May and the top percentage gain market of Flint, MI saw a reduction in job growth of 700 basis points (bps) to 23%.

Las Vegas and Detroit were the only major markets in the top job growth market list, and both had annual growth of more than 20%. In fact, Las Vegas was the only top percentage gain market to improve in growth rate from April, climbing to 21.4% from 19.3%. Reno, NV and Toledo, OH joined this month’s list with growth of about 15%. The remaining top growth markets ranged from 14% to almost 20%.

Aside from the weak annual percentage growth in Midland/Odessa of 1%, all of the top 150 markets tracked by RealPage had growth of 3.5% or more compared to last year. Thirty-two markets had double-digit growth of 10% or more, and three of those exceeded 20% growth (Detroit, Las Vegas, and Flint, MI). Houston was the largest market with growth of less than 5%, although San Jose and San Francisco were both under 6%.