Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Labor Market 150 Index, presented by CareerBuilder & EMSI

New quarterly index ranks the labor markets of the 150 largest U.S. metropolitan areas

  • Provo-Orem, Utah, is No. 1 labor market; Houston, Texas, Raleigh, NC, Salt Lake City, Utah, and Fayetteville-Springdale, AR, round out top 5 - TWEET THIS
  • Newhaven-Milford, CT, sees fastest growth in job listings - TWEET THIS

Provo-Orem, Utah, a metro 40 miles south of Salt Lake City with about 600,000 residents, has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. Led by a booming tech sector, its employment has grown 16 percent since 2010, and a good percentage of its new jobs pay more than $16.60 an hour, the metro’s living wage. For these reasons and others, Provo-Orem is ranked as the No. 1 labor market in the inaugural Labor Market 150 Index, presented by CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists Intl.

The quarterly index is comprised of several historical and leading indicators that measure the overall dynamism and balance of the labor markets in the 150 largest U.S. metropolitan areas. Employment levels, unemployment rates, job listings growth, and the abundance of high-paying new jobs are all important factors.

Aided by a strong recovery from the recession and significant job growth from its energy and manufacturing sectors, the Houston, Texas metro area ranks second. STEM — Science, technology, engineering and math — and knowledge employment growth are key factors in state capitals Raleigh, North Carolina (No. 3) and Salt Lake City, Utah (No. 4) receiving high positions. The Fayetteville-Springdale, Arkansas metro area, home to both the University of Arkansas and headquarters of Wal-Mart, rounds out the top five with its low unemployment rate and robust post-recession recovery.

Labor Market 150 Index variables are weighted separately and arranged into four groups in the table below.

  • Using EMSI’s proprietary data set, Employment Rank 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.
Each metro’s Overall Rank is based on a total score, which can be viewed in the interactive map feature.

Labor Market 150 Index

Use the sort button on the left side of each column header to view rankings by category or to alphabetize the metro list. Share and embed your view of the index using the toolbar located at the bottom of the table.

The presence of industries reliant on STEM and knowledge jobs is a running theme throughout the top section of the index. Tech hubs Austin, Texas (No. 6), San Francisco-Oakland, California (No. 14), San Jose-Sunnyvale, California (No. 15), and Seattle, Washington (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.

The country’s largest markets posted mixed results. The New York City-Newark metro (No. 90) showed modest employment growth in recent years, but that story could be flipping, as its unique job postings growth rate is ranked No. 9 in the country. At 2 percent, Los Angeles, California (No. 87) posted above-average employment growth in 2014, but is held back by an unemployment rate above 7 percent. Chicago, Illinois (No. 120) – the nation’s third-largest market – has an improving unemployment rate, but job growth remains anemic. Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas (No. 33) – the nation’s fourth-largest market – is lifted by its 10th-place mark in the Employment Ranking category. Boston, Massachusetts (No. 34) is the highest-ranked major market on the Eastern Seaboard. Washington, D.C. is ranked 97.

Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Florida is ranked 150. Other notable metros in the back quarter of the index include New Orleans, Louisiana (No. 144), Albuquerque, New Mexico (No. 128), Milwaukee, Wisconsin (No. 121), and Memphis, Tennessee (No. 118).

The index aims to value balance as much as possible. For instance, Reading, Pennsylvania is ranked 129th in Employment Ranking, but fourth in Quality Employment Ranking, due in large part to the fact 66 percent of its new jobs pay at or above the area’s living wage. Combining that with its low unemployment rate, Reading is ranked 25th overall. Additionally, with the inclusion of Job Postings Growth, the index offers a look at potential future labor market conditions. Houston and Seattle, for instance, both have high overall rankings, but have seen a significant slowdown in new job listings recently. They are ranked 134th and 148th in that category, respectively.

Newhaven-Milford, Connecticut (No. 35) is ranked No. 1 in job listings growth, supported by high activity among several IT and health care occupations. Providence-Warwick, Rhode Island-Massachusetts (No. 62) falls into the No. 2 spot, with notable increases in certain management, finance, and sales occupations.

About the Index

Data used to compile the Labor Market 150 Index is based primarily on EMSI’s extensive labor market data set. EMSI, a CareerBuilder company, gathers and integrates economic, labor market, demographic and education data from more than 90 government and private-sector sources, creating a comprehensive and current database that includes both published data and detailed estimates. This iteration of the index uses EMSI’s 2014.3 Class of Worker data set and does not include self-employed workers.

Notes on Individual Index Variables

  • Employment Rank includes measurements of total industry growth from the following periods: 2001-2014, 2010-2014, 2013-2014. Projections from 2014-2020 are also included. Get more information on EMSI’s employment projections here. The 2010-2014 and 2013-2014 time periods are weighted more heavily in the index calculations.
  • Quality Employment Rank tracks metros’ employment fluctuations in key driver industries over the same time periods, including the 2014-2020 projections. A driver industry is defined as any industry with 1,000 or more jobs in 2014, average industry earnings of at least $50,000, and an employment concentration or location quotient at least 20 percent above the national average. Growth of driver industries is a particularly good sign a region’s economy is headed in the right direction. The 2010-2014 and 2013-2014 time periods are weighted more heavily in the index calculations.
  • The share of new jobs in growing occupations that pay at or above the region’s living wage for two adults and one child are also factored into a region’s quality employment ranking. Each metro’s living wage was derived from MIT’s Living Wage Calculator.
  • Job postings data comes from CareerBuilder and EMSI’s proprietary database. Duplicate postings are eliminated from analysis; only a metro’s unique listings are included in the index. Get more information on the job postings data used in the index here.
  • November’s metropolitan unemployment rates, calculated by the BLS, were used for this edition of the index.
  • The Overall Rank is not an average of the four groups, but is scaled and scored according to individual weights assigned to each variable.

About EMSI

Economic Modeling Specialists Intl., a CareerBuilder company, turns labor market data into useful information that helps organizations understand the connection between economies, people and work. Using sound economic principles and good data, EMSI builds user-friendly services that help educational institutions, workforce planners, and regional developers build a better workforce and improve the economic conditions in their regions. For more information, visit

About CareerBuilder®

CareerBuilder is the global leader in human capital solutions, helping companies target and attract great talent. Its online career site,®, is the largest in the United States with more than 24 million unique visitors and 1 million jobs. CareerBuilder works with the world’s top employers, providing everything from labor market intelligence to talent management software and other recruitment solutions. Owned by Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE:GCI), Tribune Company and The McClatchy Company (NYSE:MNI), CareerBuilder and its subsidiaries operate in the United States, Europe, South America, Canada and Asia. For more information, visit

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