April jobs report: Manufacturing, tourism leading way to recovery for U.S. metros

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the April employment report for metropolitan areas this week. As expected, year-over-year unemployment and job growth improved considerably for nearly every metro area, given the state of the economy at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic last year.

Basic math for a recovery would imply large gains in April 2021 compared to April 2020, and that’s mostly what the report showed. Unemployment improved in every metro, and payroll employment increased in all but three metros, Midland, Lake Charles, and Odessa.

While the top-line talking points from this report held few surprises, ranking the best-performing metros does reveal the importance of manufacturing and tourism to the economic recovery of many regions.

Here are the top ten metros ranked by job growth (%) in April 2020-April 2021, and their dominant industry:

  1. Elkhart-Goshen, IN (53% job growth) – manufacturing
  2. Ocean City, NJ (47%) – tourism
  3. Atlantic City-Hammonton, NJ (32%) – tourism
  4. Flint, MI (30%) – manufacturing
  5. Saginaw, MI (26%) – manufacturing
  6. East Stroudsburg, PA (26%) – tourism
  7. Barnstable Town, MA (25%) – tourism
  8. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI (25%) – manufacturing
  9. Gettysburg, PA (25%) – tourism, manufacturing
  10. Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, SC (23%) – tourism

Michigan, in particular, appears to be on the right track, with 21% year-over-year job growth in April, the only state exceeding 20% in the report. Nevada was next, with about 18% job growth, led by Las Vegas, which has recovered 150,000 jobs since April 2020.

Neither state has fully recovered the job losses yet, but the summer tourism bounce may be enough to push Nevada and other tourism-driven areas over the line by the time of the May report, scheduled for release on June 30.