Metro Areas and Job Recovery

By at 29 September, 2021, 6:32 pm

by Raymond J. Keating –

As the nation works to come back from the many wounds of this brutal pandemic, the rate of recovery varies across the nation. In terms of jobs, for example, we can assess the national numbers, but also data by states and localities.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) just released the latest report on metropolitan areas employment and unemployment for August 2021. The data in this report in not seasonally adjusted, and therefore, the appropriate comparisons are to the same time in previous years.

In terms of employment, it was noted: “In August, 104 metropolitan areas had over-the-year increases in nonfarm payroll employment and 285 were essentially unchanged.”

As for particular areas, the following points were highlighted:

Largest Percentage Gains

● “The largest over-the-year percentage gains in employment occurred in Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, HI (+22.5 percent), Ocean City, NJ (+20.0 percent), and Atlantic City-Hammonton, NJ (+10.3 percent).”

Largest Gains in Big Metro Areas

● “Over the year, nonfarm employment increased in 50 metropolitan areas with a 2010 Census population of 1 million or more, while employment was essentially unchanged in 1 area. The largest over-the-year percentage increases in employment in these large metropolitan areas occurred in Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV (+9.7 percent), and Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY, and Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA (+7.2 percent each).”

This is all generally welcome news.

Pre-Pandemic Comparisons

However, to complete the picture, it is worth taking note of the changes in these areas versus pre-pandemic August 2019. So, from August 2019 to August 2021, nonfarm employment in:

● Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, HI, was down by 19.6 percent

● Ocean City, NJ, was up by 2.8 percent

● Atlantic City-Hammonton, NJ, was down by 9.4 percent

● Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV, was down by 6.7 percent

● Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY, was down by 5.3 percent

● Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA, was down by 6.0 percent.

The differences are quite striking, from an actual gain in Ocean City, NJ, to a nearly 20 percent decline still in Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, HI.

Of course, these and other differences across the nation are attributable to many factors, including those that are directly pandemic related, industry-based challenges and length and scale of shutdown periods.

In addition, policymakers at the state and local levels must consider how their policy climates – including tax and regulatory burdens – will affect economic recovery and eventual expansion.

Raymond J. Keating is chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.


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