New York Continues to Lead the Nation in Job Gains

New York led the nation for annual job gains once again in August, with Chicago, Dallas and Houston not far behind. However, as in the nation overall, most of those numbers are falling.

As the U.S. economy grapples with rising interest rates, high inflation, volatile stocks and weakening consumer sentiment, the labor market has had to contend with increasing torpidity in hiring and retention. According to the latest release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), eight of the top 10 markets for employment gain had smaller annual totals in August than in July, the same number as last month. The remaining two top 10 markets had only minor increases.

All but one of last month’s top 10 markets returned to this month’s list but the sum total of jobs gained (1,697.3 million jobs) fell by almost 56,000 jobs comparing the same 10 from July.

New York continues to lead the nation in annual gains, but its 386,800 jobs added in the year-ending August was their third consecutive decline. Last month’s #3 market – Chicago – moved up to #2, gaining 201,200 jobs, 1,600 less than in July.

Dallas slipped into the #3 spot with 197,500 jobs gained but that was 13,600 short of July’s total. Houston remained at #4, gaining 191,900 jobs for the year, about 3,000 more than last month’s annual total. 

Atlanta and Los Angeles changed places from last month at #5 and #6, with Atlanta adding 150,400 jobs to their economy and Los Angeles gaining 139,300 jobs for the year. However, Atlanta slipped only 2,400 jobs from July’s total, while Los Angeles added 34,700 fewer jobs than their previous annual total. 

Boston and Philadelphia returned to the #7 and #8 spots with a gain of 127,000 and 122,800 jobs, respectively, essentially unchanged from July. Seattle actually moved up one spot to #9 in August with an annual gain of 91,100 jobs, 4,500 less than July.

Last month’s #10 market, Detroit, fell to #13 in August, replaced by Riverside, which gained 89,300 jobs for the 12-months ending in August.

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 August, 66 of the largest 150 markets had higher annual job gains than in July compared to 34 in July and 83 in June. 

Despite spreading weakness in employment gains for the top 10, only half of the next 10 markets had lower annual job gain totals than in July, but nine of the next 10 markets after that did (a total of 22 of the top 30 markets). 

With these slowing job gains, the positive momentum that has helped many markets recover all of the jobs lost early in the pandemic recession has stalled. In August, 85 of our top 150 markets had returned to or bettered their February 2020 employment level but that has remained in the same range for three months. Of the top 10 job gain markets, New York and Los Angeles still have a long way to go to recover all of their pandemic-induced job losses, while the remaining top 10 have fully recovered.

Only three of the next 10 top 150 markets ranked by August job gain are below their pre-pandemic employment bases, the same as last month. Of those, Detroit is closest to regaining its pre-pandemic employment level, while San Francisco and Washington, DC are each about 20,000 to 40,000 jobs short of recovery. 

With the slowing employment gain momentum, only eight markets had annual job gains of 100,000 or more, the same as in July, but three less than last August. Another 21 markets gained between 50,000 and 99,999 jobs, equal to last month. Only Jackson, MS reported an annual job loss from last August.

Like annual job gains, the annual percentage change in employment slowed in the majority of markets. Only seven of July’s top 10 returned in August with three additional major markets joining the list. 

Dallas again led the nation for percentage annual growth in employment at 7.1%, a decline of 60 basis points (bps) from last month, while Miami remained in the #2 spot with 6.8% growth (unchanged from July).

Newark jumped onto the list at #3 with a 6.5% gain, improving by 80 bps from July. Houston and Fort Worth each moved up one spot with annual percentage job growth rates of 6.2% and 5.8%, respectively. New York tied Fort Worth at 5.8% growth but moved up from #10 in July to #5 in August.

Newcomers Portland, OR and Riverside tied returning San Francisco at #7 with 5.7% growth but San Francisco slipped from the #3 spot last month. The college town market of Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR-MO rounded out the top 10 with annual job growth of 5.6%, down 30 bps from July.

Dropping out of the top 10 list this month were Las Vegas, Austin and North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL. This is the first time Las Vegas has been out of the top 10 since the recovery began in earnest in April 2021.It usually placed first or in the top three.

Compared to one year ago, Riverside and Miami were markets with the steepest drops in employment growth, falling 220 and 150 bps from August 2021. New York and San Francisco were the only other top 10 markets with job growth declines. The remaining top markets averaged about a 40 bps increase from last year.

The weakest major markets for percentage growth are still primarily in the industrial Midwest. Major markets with sub-2% growth include Cincinnati, Akron, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Columbus, Richmond, Dayton, St. Louis and Omaha. In addition to the top 10, strong job growth markets include: Orlando, Seattle, Austin, Atlanta, Charlotte and Las Vegas. Fifty markets had annual job growth rates above the not seasonally adjusted national average of 4%, equal to July.