Top Job Gain Markets Show Modest Increases

May’s national job gain numbers were surprisingly strong (on a seasonally adjusted annual rate) but that didn’t translate to metro-level gains (not seasonally adjusted) as much as would be expected.

According to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only six of this month’s top 10 markets for employment gains increased their 12-month totals from April, and those increases averaged at just 4,600 jobs. The remaining four markets had slight-to-moderate decreases to their annual job gain totals from the previous month.

Eight of April’s top 10 job creation markets returned in May with a few changing places.

New York remained in the #1 spot with 101,200 jobs gained for the year-ending May, decreasing by 13,300 jobs from April. Houston returned at #2 with a gain of 81,700 jobs through May, up just 1,900 jobs from April’s revised total.

Phoenix regained the #3 spot from Dallas with 52,300 jobs gained, up 1,100 jobs from April. Dallas slipped to #4, adding 47,400 jobs, just 700 less than in April. Revisions to last month’s figures would have placed Dallas at #4 in April as well.

Las Vegas remained in the #5 spot, gaining 45,200 jobs for the year, up 2,000 jobs from April’s total. Philadelphia stayed in the #6 spot with 44,300 jobs gained, up by about 7,000 jobs from last month’s downwardly revised April figure. Atlanta also remained in place at #7 with 34,600 new jobs, 4,800 less than in April.

Miami returned at #8 this month, gaining 33,800 jobs, with a similar decline as Atlanta of 4,100 jobs from last month. Last month’s #9 and #10 (Los Angeles and Sacramento) fell out of the top 10 in May, replaced by San Antonio (30,000 jobs gained) and Washington, DC (28,900 jobs gained). In fact, Washington, DC’s increase of 13,300 jobs from April’s total gain offset the 13,300-job decrease for New York in the same period.

The total number of jobs gained for the year-ending May for the top 10 markets (494,500 jobs) was up only 4,900 jobs or 1% from their collective total last month. The next 10 markets (#11-#20) saw their combined annual jobs gains decrease by about 6,800 jobs.

As was the case in April, only one of the top 10 markets exceeded 100,000 jobs gained for the year and only two gained between 50,000 and 99,999 jobs, one less than last month. Eleven markets reported annual job losses for the year, one less than last month. Major markets reporting annual job losses include Portland, OR, Memphis, Denver, San Francisco, Milwaukee and Baltimore.

Like annual job gains, the annual percentage change in employment saw some improvement as well with eight of the top markets increasing their employment growth rates from April. Only four of last month’s top employment growth markets returned in May and most changed places.

Charleston ranked #1 for employment change in May at 4.5%, unchanged from April, while Las Vegas and College Station tied for #2 with 4% growth. Stockton-Lodi, CA ranked #4 with 3.4% job growth, up 80 basis points (bps) from April’s rate.

Myrtle Beach, SC fell from #1 in April to #5 in May with 3.3% employment growth, down 200 bps from last month. Fort Collins, CO was just 10 bps behind at #6 with 3.2% growth. Lincoln, NE took the #7 spot with 3% growth, up 70 bps from April.

Boise, ID, Columbia, SC and Greenville/Spartanburg, SC tied for the last spot in the top 10 with 2.9% job growth and each improved from 20 to 100 bps from last month.

The list of top job growth markets includes several metros with state capitals, major universities or tourism attractions, or a combination of these.

Compared to last year, only two markets had lower job growth rates and eight had higher rates. They ranged from an improvement of 300 bps in Stockton to a decrease of 110 bps in Myrtle Beach.

Outside of the top growth markets, Boulder, CO, Syracuse, NY, Omaha, NE, Tallahassee, FL, Vallejo/Fairfield/Napa, CA and New Haven, CT saw their job growth rates increase by 100 bps or more from last year. Meanwhile, Midland/Odessa, Flint, MI, Orlando, Chattanooga, Lansing, MI, Knoxville, New Orleans, Corpus Christi, TX, Port St. Lucie/Sebastian/Vero Beach, FL and Nashville fell by at least 300 bps from last year’s job growth.

As mentioned, major markets with employment declines were Memphis, Portland, OR, San Francisco, Denver, Milwaukee and Baltimore. Sub-0.5% growth markets included San Jose, Chicago, Boston, Detroit and San Diego. Sub-1% growth major markets included Cleveland, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Nashville, Oakland, Cincinnati and Washington, DC. Fifty-seven markets had annual job growth rates above the not seasonally adjusted national average of 1.8%, three fewer than in April.