Top Metro Areas for Employment Growth in 2021

by | Feb 23, 2022 | Business, Economy, Employment, Finances, Real Estate

Employment roared back in a big way in the nation’s largest metro areas in 2021 — particularly in popular tourist destinations.

The nation’s 100 largest metro areas averaged 4% job growth between December 2020 and December 2021, according to an analysis of the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data by The Business Journals.

All 100 of those metros grew employment during the year. Combined, they added 4.6 million jobs — accounting for 83.5% of all jobs added in U.S. metro areas during 2021.Of course, that job growth was accompanied by an unprecedented hiring climate that has sparked a war for talent, rising wages and inflation that is straining small-business owners across the nation.

And despite the strong growth in metro areas, employment still hasn’t recovered to pre-pandemic levels.

The leaders for job growth

Las Vegas and Orlando, Florida — two metros that were devastated by the initial wave of Covid-19 — set the pace among large metros for job growth in 2021. Las Vegas added 80,000 jobs over the 12-month period and its 8.8% growth rate was the strongest among the 100 largest metros. The growth may have been even higher if the Delta variant didn’t put a dent in the meeting and convention industry’s comeback in late summer. Orlando experienced a similar comeback in 2021, adding 91,400 jobs for a growth rate of 7.7% as theme-park attendance recovered at a rapid pace.

Portland, Oregon (7.3%), Colorado Springs, Colorado (7.2%), and Austin, Texas (7.2%), joined Las Vegas and Orlando as the only large metros with at least a 7% growth rate in 2021.

Many Sun Belt metros that dominated growth metrics in recent years found themselves outside the top 10 in 2021 growth.

While Austin took a familiar place in the top five, both Dallas (5.2%) and Houston (5.1%) landed just outside the top 25.

High-growth Southern metros like Nashville, Tennessee, (4.7%) and Raleigh, North Carolina (4%), posted solid gains in 2021 but landed closer to the middle of the pack nationally than to the top at 36th and 49th, respectively.