Metro Area Employment Shows Uneven Recovery

By at 3 January, 2022, 2:26 am

by Raymond J. Keating –

Within the vast U.S. economy, there are usually considerable differences in economic performance from state to state, and locality to locality. This is illustrated in the latest data on metropolitan area employment supplied by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

As the recovery from the pandemic economy continues unevenly nationally, the differences by metro areas can be noteworthy. For example, as of November 2021:

● 100 metropolitan areas experienced a gain in nonfarm payroll employment over the previous year.

● 289 metro areas experienced no change over that period.

However, when we focus on large metro areas with a population of 1 million or more (according to the 2010 Census), growth becomes more widespread:

● 48 of these metro areas have experienced employment growth over the past year

● Only 3 remain unchanged.

Of course, these numbers are affected by how deeply the pandemic originally hit each area, and the extent of lockdowns and other restrictive measures imposed by governments. Still, the data and differences in growth are worth examining, especially by state and local elected officials.

Just as federal policies affect decisions regarding entrepreneurship and investment, the same goes for policies imposed by state and local officials. And of course, it’s not all that difficult for entrepreneurs, businesses, investors and workers to move from one locality to another, or amidst the states, as we’ve seen that migration accelerate during the pandemic.

Policies pointed in the right or wrong direction can either counter or make worse other regional challenges – such as those being faced by much of rural America in terms of lost and losing population.

Policymaking always matters, but it arguably matters more as we all work to emerge from the devastation wrought by the pandemic. The need to get policies right – namely, providing relief from assorted government burdens, so that businesses and job creation can flourish – should be clear to all.

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


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