Most Top Job Markets Record Stronger Gains in March

Though national job growth figures have drifted downward, gains in some key apartment markets across the country remain above the year-earlier pace.

Among the nation’s top 10 job growth markets, seven created more jobs in the year-ending March than they did in the previous 12 months. In all, those seven markets saw annual employment growth increased by 83,000 jobs in March 2019 over March 2018. The three exceptions – New York, Phoenix and Chicago – saw gains decrease by about 40,000 jobs, taking the net improvement among the top 10 job growth markets 43,000 jobs year-over-year.

Comparing February and March numbers, employment data at the metropolitan statistical area-level showed little variation. Nine of the top 10 job creation markets for February reappear in the top 10 in March. The top two metros each showed progress from the previous month as the New York-White Plains, NY metro division went from about 95,000 jobs gained in the 12 months ending in February to 103,300 in March, while the Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX division jumped from 84,900 to 90,600 positions.

While Houston, Atlanta and Phoenix each returned to rank at #3 through #5, with gains of about 60,000 to 68,000 jobs each, these markets saw annual job gains fall a bit from February numbers.

Orlando moved up one spot to #6 with 47,400 jobs gained in the year-ending March and Seattle moved up two places to #7 with 46,500 net new jobs, about 15,000 more than this market created in the year-ending February.

San Francisco remained at #8 with a little more than 44,000 new jobs, just ahead of Chicago, which fell to #9 in March, gaining 44,100 jobs, nearly 20,000 jobs below February gains. Last month’s #10 – Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA division – was edged out of the top 10, replaced by Philadelphia, which gained 38,400 positions in the year-ending March.

Eight of the remaining nine top 20 spots were returning metros, although several moved around the list. Nashville slipped to #18 in March and Las Vegas dropped from #14 to #19, but Washington, DC jumped from #22 to #13, displacing Austin out of the top 20 metros for job gains.

In terms of overall gains, the total gains among the top 10 markets combined decreased slightly from the year-ending February, down 0.7%, or about 4,500 fewer jobs added. However, the 596,800 jobs added in the top 10 markets in the year-ending March still comprised 24% of the total U.S. employment gain for the year.

Dallas had the largest job gain improvement from the same 12-month period one year ago, adding 36,000 more jobs to its total gains than the previous year. San Francisco had the second-largest improvement in annual job gains with almost 20,000 more jobs added than last year. Strong employment improvement was also seen in Houston, San Jose, Miami, and Cincinnati.

As happened last month, Los Angeles had the largest decrease in annual job gains compared to last year, with Riverside and Anaheim again making the list of declining growth markets. Boston, New York, and Detroit also experienced cutbacks in annual employment gains.

As a sign of potential slowing in the economy, 15 of RealPage’s top 150 metros lost jobs in the year-ending March 2019, five more than last month and 10 more than last year. Minneapolis-St. Paul lost about 100 jobs but was the only declining economy among the significant-sized markets.

The major markets of Orlando, San Francisco, and Dallas again made the top 10 list of metro areas for job growth as a percentage of total employment for the year-ending March 2019. Other familiar metros in the top growth list were smaller areas like Midland-Odessa, TX; Reno, NV; Boise City, ID; Fresno, CA; Provo, UT and the Florida markets of Palm Bay, Lakeland, and Cape Coral.

Comparing current annual job growth rates with those from one year ago, seven smaller metros – Trenton, NJ; Springfield, MA; Lakeland, FL; Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA; Knoxville, TN; Montgomery, AL and Jackson, MS – at least doubled their growth rates with improvements of 140 to 200 basis points (bps). Metros with declining growth rates included: Midland/Odessa, TX (-920 bps); Savannah, GA (-420 bps); Stockton, CA (-320 bps); Jacksonville, FL (-270 bps); Riverside, CA (-250 bps); Lancaster, PA (-240 bps); and Tulsa, OK (-210 bps).