New Quarterly Index Ranks Local Labor Markets

Historic shopping area on North University Avenue at Central Business District.
GettyProvo-Orem, Utah tops this quarter's index, with 16 percent employment growth since 2010.

By Matt Tarpey, CareerBuilder writer

CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. have released the inaugural Labor Market 150 Index, a quarterly ranking of the labor markets of the largest 150 U.S. metropolitan areas.

Using historical and leading indicators – including employment levels, unemployment rates, growth projections, job listings and the abundance of high-paying new jobs – the Labor Market 150 Index provides a detailed and comprehensive picture of local job markets.

So, how does your city's labor market stack up against the rest of the country?

The list
Provo-Orem, Utah tops this quarter's index, with one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country and 16 percent employment growth since 2010. Much of that growth was due to a booming tech sector, and a good percentage of Provo-Orem's new jobs pay more than $16.60 an hour, the metro's living wage.

Coming in second is Houston, which saw significant job growth in energy and manufacturing, followed by Raleigh, N.C. (No. 3) and Salt Lake City (No. 4), both of which were bolstered by strong growth in STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – and knowledge-based industries.

Check out the full Labor Market 150 Index in the table below:
Tech-driven growth
One major commonality among the cities near the top of the index is the presence of industries reliant on STEM and knowledge jobs. Tech hubs like Austin, Texas (No. 6), San Francisco-Oakland (No. 14), San Jose-Sunnyvale, Calif. (No. 15), and Seattle (No. 16) all finished inside the top 20. Des Moines, Iowa (No. 20) continues to grow its already large insurance sector and has maintained a low unemployment rate throughout the post-recession years.

Mixed bag for big cities
With the exception of Houston, the country's largest markets posted mixed results.
  • The New York City-Newark metro clocked in at number 90, largely due to modest employment growth in recent years. That may already be turning around, as the area's unique job postings growth rate is ranked No. 9 in the country.
  • Los Angeles ranks No. 87 and boasts an above-average employment growth rate of 2 percent in 2014. However, with an unemployment rate above 7 percent, L.A. ranks in the bottom half of the index.
  • Chicago (No. 120) – the nation's third-largest market – has an improving unemployment rate, but job growth remains anemic.
  • Dallas-Fort Worth (No. 33) – the nation's fourth-largest market – is lifted by its 10th-place mark in the Employment Ranking category.
  • Boston (No. 34) is the highest-ranked major market on the Eastern Seaboard. Washington, D.C. is ranked 97.

How it works
Labor Market 150 Index variables are weighted separately and arranged into four groups:
  • Employment rank – Using EMSI's proprietary data set, this group includes total-industry job growth rates pre- and post-recession, as well as projected growth rates from 2014 to 2020.
  • Quality employment rank – Includes job growth rates among each metro's key driver industries over the same time frames, as well as the share of new jobs created since 2010 with median hourly earnings at or above the metro's living wage for two adults and one child, as determined by the MIT Living Wage Calculator.
  • Job postings growth – Captures the change in the number of unique online listings from May 2014 to October 2014, and along with each metro's unemployment rate, provides the index's best look at current market situations.
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