As analysts keep predicting that economic conditions in the country will improve, some claim that it's not enough to quote national statistics and vague data. Perhaps tangible, localized measures will help paint a clearer picture of where the nation is heading and one of the best is new jobs growth.
Between November 2010 and October 2011, the biggest cities in the country by population added 443,446 jobs. Unemployment in these 250 cities dropped by 7 percent, on average, during the period. Of course, some cities are faring much better than others.
Based on the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 24/7 Wall St. examined the cities that added and lost the most jobs.
An increase in the total number of new jobs is good news for the economy. It means that the total number of people working is increasing. And if everything else stays the same, the unemployment rate improves. However, if new jobs are added and the total size of the labor force — those employed or looking for work — goes up too, unemployment actually can become worse. However, 24/7 Wall St. found that, in general, the cities that added the most jobs as a percentage of total employed also experienced improved unemployment rate, suggesting a strong relationship between the two.
The unemployment rate in five of the cities that added the most jobs as a percentage of total employed dropped. Miami’s 13.6 percent unemployment rate last year dropped to 11.2 percent in October of this year, mirroring a 4.2 percent increase in new jobs, the fifth biggest increase in the country. But it is not always the case. In Jackson, Mississippi, the addition of nearly 2,500 jobs was not enough to offset the climb in its total labor force of 3,000. The unemployment rate in the city worsened from 9.6 percent to 9.8 percent.
While cities that are losing jobs should see an increase in their unemployment rate, the relationship is much less consistent. Unemployment will increase when jobs are lost, provided the labor force decreases or remains the same. However, if the number of jobs lost is less than the decrease in the labor force, the unemployment rate can actually rise.
Of the top cities that lost the most jobs, only two saw an increase in unemployment. Surprisingly, the sharpest drop in unemployment was in Vancouver, Washington, a city that lost the fifth most jobs as percentage of the total number of workers. Vancouver lost more than 1,500 jobs, but its labor force decreased by nearly 6,000, mostly from those looking for work. The actual unemployment rate for the city therefore improved.
These are the cities that added and lost the most jobs.
THE CITIES THAT ADDED THE MOST JOBS:
3. Springfield, Missouri
Employed pct. increase: 4.96 percent
Total employed increase: 3,610
Unemployment rate: 7.4 percent
The employed workforce in Springfield, Mo., jumped nearly 5 percent between November, 2010 and October, 2011. The city has added 3,610 jobs over the course of the past year, and unemployment has dropped to 7.4 percent, below the state rate of 8.5 percent. The city of Springfield says its sales tax revenue increased more than 10 percent from last year. The improvement came in “sectors like restaurants, department stores, and home improvement stores,” according to Ozarksfirst.com.
2. Pueblo, Colorado
Employed pct. increase: 5.3 percent
Total employed increase: 2,432
Unemployment rate: 10.5 percent
As of October 2011, the unemployment rate in Pueblo was 10.5 percent, a full 2.4 percentage points higher than Colorado’s rate. Over that time period, the employed population in the city increased by more than 5 percent. At least this is an improvement from 12 months ago, when 11.7 percent of the city’s workforce was unemployed. In 2010, Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas opened a plant in Pueblo, adding hundreds of new jobs.
1. Fort Wayne, Indiana
Employed pct. increase: 6.36 percent
Total employed increase: 7,052
Unemployment rate: 8.7 percent
In just one year, Fort Wayne has added more than 7,000 jobs, increasing its employed population by some 6.4 percent. The unemployment rate dropped from 10.7 percent to 8.7 percent. Fort Wayne added the 11th most positions in the country, eclipsing the natural job growth of much larger cities like San Antonio, Phoenix and Philadelphia. In fact, the Fort Wayne metro area had the fastest job growth, according to The Fiscal Times. “Fort Wayne—which had a 4 percent increase—continues to benefit from the rebirth of auto manufacturing and high levels of defense spending,” The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reports.
THE CITIES THAT LOST THE MOST JOBS:
3. Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Employed pct. decrease: 2.43 percent
Total employed decrease: 2,435
Unemployment rate: 8.2 percent
Unemployment in Baton Rouge is up slightly, as the city lost more than 2,400 jobs over the course of the last year. The city has an unemployment rate of 8.2 percent, higher than Louisiana’s rate of 7 percent. According to the Associated Press, a portion of the losses have been in the goods-providing sector. But the largest portion, roughly 1,000 positions, have been in the service-providing sector. In an otherwise successful year for the state of Louisiana, Baton Rouge was the only major city to lose jobs over the course of the last year.
2. Spokane, Washington
Employed pct. decrease: 3.61 percent
Total employed decrease: 3,437
Unemployment rate: 8.6 percent
Spokane is the third city on our list from Washington. This goes to show that, to a certain extent, statewide problems are affecting these local economies. While unemployment in nearly every state in the country declined over the past six measurable months, Washington state had a much smaller decrease than other states, including neighboring California and Oregon. Spokane lost 3,437 jobs last year — the third biggest loss of the 250 largest cities in the U.S. Spokane’s unemployment actually dropped 0.5 percentage points despite the job losses. There have been a series of job losses, including the dismissal of hundreds of census workers, and the firing of 1,000 leisure and hospitality workers in April alone.
1. Abilene, Texas
Employed pct. decrease: 5.62 percent
Total employed decrease: 3,111
Unemployment rate: 6.9 percent
Unemployment in Abilene was 6.9 percent in October, well below the Texas average of 8.4 percent, as well as the national average of 9 percent. The city is, however, doing substantially worse than it was 12 months prior. Unemployment is up from 6.7 percent, and the city has lost 3,111 jobs, the fourth-most loss over that period among the 250 largest cities in the U.S. In May, a cooling tower manufacturing plant owned by Broadwind laid off dozens of employees. In March, 178 local teachers were fired. These small layoffs and a multitude of others like them have brought unemployment in the state closer to the Texas average.