Metro Area Employment Growth: Results Vary Across the Nation

By at 27 April, 2022, 3:22 pm


by Raymond J. Keating –

If one doubts the importance of policy decisions made by elected in officials in cities and other localities, just take a look at the history of places like New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago and San Francisco. Over the decades, in each of these cases, decisions were made in a variety of policy areas that made those cities far less hospitable to entrepreneurs, businesses, investors, individuals and families.

Yes, policy matters from Congress down to mayors and town councils.

Keeping that in mind, let’s take a look at some highlights from the latest metropolitan area employment numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This data is not seasonally adjusted, so we are left with comparing the latest month’s data, March 2022, with the same month in previous years.

In general, nonfarm employment growth seems to occur in a larger percentage of metro areas as the size of such locales increases. So, among a total of 389 metropolitan areas, 147 experienced employment growth from March 2021 to March 2022, with 242 having no growth.

When we move to metropolitan areas with more than 1 million residents, nonfarm employment expanded in 45 such areas, with only six experiencing no growth.

And lastly in metropolitan divisions, 28 experienced job growth, with 10 having no growth.

Of course, in looking at this data, one has to consider the depth of job losses experienced when the pandemic hit in 2020. It also must be pointed out in the strongest terms that economic performances range wildly within types of regions, such as urban, ex-urban, suburban and rural, again based in part on policy decisions.

No Growth Urban Areas

Consider, for example, differences in performance among large areas.

In the New York-Newark-Jersey City metropolitan area, employment registered 9.873 million in March 2019, while it came in at 9.537 million in March 2022.

Similarly, employment has yet to recover in the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington metropolitan area, with employment registering 2.951 million in March 2019 and at 2.924 million in March 2022.

In the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim area, employment came in at 6.112 million in March 2022, still down from 6.217 million in March 2019.

And as for the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin metro area, employment was counted at 4.612 million in 2022 versus 4.695 million in March 2019.

Urban Areas Experiencing Growth

Compare those regions to the largest areas in Texas and Florida.

In Texas, employment in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metropolitan area stood at 3.73 million in March 2019 and at 4.02 million in March 2022.

As for Florida’s Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach metropolitan area, employment registered 2.715 million in March 2019, compared to 2.759 million in March 2022 – not great, but certainly better than the experience in the New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles areas.

In the end, policymakers – again, from Congress down to local city councils – should be looking to make their policy climates as welcoming as possible for entrepreneurs, businesses and investors, who in the end are the job creators.

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


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