New report shows three states and sixty-nine metro areas leading post-COVID recovery

Payroll employment has recovered in three states and sixty-nine metropolitan areas, according to data released this week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Comparing pre-COVID July 2019 to July 2021–this data is not seasonally adjusted on a monthly basis–total nonfarm employment grew in Idaho (4.2%), Utah (3.1%), and Arizona (1.7%). Payroll employment has recovered in every metro in Idaho and Utah, and in five of the seven metros in Arizona. Ten of the twenty-two metros in Florida have recovered, so it could join this group when the August report is published.

Large metros (500,000 jobs or more) with net employment gains in July 2019-July 2021 included:

  1. Austin-Round Rock, TX (4.4%)
  2. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ (3.2%)
  3. Salt Lake City, UT (2.6%)
  4. Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN (1.4%)
  5. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL (1.1%)
  6. Jacksonville, FL (0.7%)
  7. Raleigh, NC (0.5%)

Medium-sized metros (100,000-499,999 jobs), ranked by growth rate:

  1. Provo-Orem, UT
  2. Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL
  3. Boise City, ID
  4. Savannah, GA
  5. Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR
  6. Durham-Chapel Hill, NC
  7. Ogden-Clearfield, UT
  8. Stockton-Lodi, CA
  9. Port St. Lucie, FL
  10. Tyler, TX
  11. Waco, TX
  12. Huntsville, AL
  13. Lafayette-West Lafayette, IN
  14. Champaign-Urbana, IL
  15. Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL
  16. Springfield, MO
  17. Spartanburg, SC
  18. Wilmington, NC
  19. Ocala, FL
  20. Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA
  21. Colorado Springs, CO
  22. Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL
  23. Salem, OR
  24. Fargo, ND
  25. Amarillo, TX
  26. Knoxville, TN
  27. North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL

Growth rates in Provo, Lakeland, Boise, Savannah, Fayetteville, and Durham exceeded three percent.

Small metros (fewer than 100,000 jobs), ranked by growth rate:

  1. Sierra Vista-Douglas, AZ
  2. St. George, UT
  3. Pocatello, ID
  4. Idaho Falls, ID
  5. Logan, UT
  6. Coeur d’Alene, ID
  7. Cleveland, TN
  8. California-Lexington Park, MD
  9. Jacksonville, NC
  10. Abilene, TX
  11. Walla Walla, WA
  12. Lake Havasu City-Kingman, AZ
  13. Twin Falls, ID
  14. Daphne-Fairhope-Foley, AL
  15. Winchester, VA
  16. Burlington, NC
  17. Merced, CA
  18. Yuma, AZ
  19. Lewiston, ID
  20. The Villages, FL
  21. Morristown, TN
  22. Sherman-Denison, TX
  23. Yuba City, CA
  24. Prescott, AZ
  25. Jefferson City, MO
  26. Warner Robins, GA
  27. Greenville, NC
  28. Dothan, AL
  29. Hammond, LA
  30. El Centro, CA
  31. Jonesboro, AR
  32. Columbia, MO
  33. Auburn-Opelika, AL
  34. Longview, WA
  35. Sebring, FL

Payroll employment growth in the top-eleven metros in that list exceeded three percent.

Overall, the July report was a mixed bag, or at least it was reported that way. According to the BLS, unemployment was down in nearly every metro in July 2021 compared to a year earlier, as you would expect. That’s good news, despite the fact that many people are still on the sidelines of the labor market, and not represented in those figures.

But I was surprised at how the BLS characterized job growth: “In July, 142 metropolitan areas had over-the-year increases in nonfarm payroll employment and 247 were essentially unchanged.” By my count, year-over-year job growth exceeded three percent in the majority of metros. Is that really “unchanged?”

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