While millions of struggling Americans still working hard to find employment might disagree, economists are heartened about prospects for growth this year as industries increasingly report better profits and add new jobs.
In fact, job growth is said to be at its fastest pace in 10 months. In recent surveys, American employers were found to have added 162,000 jobs in March 2010, the most in three years. Wages and salaries also are improving. And, obviously higher salaries bode well for the recovery, since consumer spending accounts for as much as 70 percent of our nation’s economic activity.
So, are you still looking for work? Well you’ve come to the right place. Or, at least, the place where you can find the best “places” to find work as The Milken Institute, a nonpartisan economic think tank, released its annual Best Performing Cities Index earlier this week.
And where are these bastions for hiring and employment boom towns? Would you believe deep in the heart of Texas?
The 2009 top 10 performers (with 2008 rankings) of the 200 largest metros:
1. Austin-Round Rock, TX (4)
2. Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood, TX (13)
3. Salt Lake City, UT (3)
4. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX (7)
5. Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX (16)
6. Durham, NC (21)
7. Olympia, WA (9)
8. Huntsville, AL (5)
9. Lafayette, LA (14)
10. Raleigh-Cary, NC (2)
Yep, that’s right, the Lone Star state as it happens made up four of the top five cities in the Milken report. In it, the index editors suggested that these large Texas towns rose to the top of the employment heap, along with a notable pair from North Carolina, due to their resources and technology sectors, in addition to the "state's favorable business climate and its ability to attract jobs and corporations away from higher-cost states":
"Regional economic factors also strongly influenced the rankings this year, with the oil and gas sector, technology and alternative energy providing stability among metros in Texas, North Carolina, Washington and Louisiana, which also benefited from low dependence on housing/construction. Austin in particular has been helped by its strong tech industry. It is the first metro to ever be ranked number one twice on the index, the last time being in 2000."
For many of the cities, rising to the top of the rankings was a matter of not losing ground, and, as The Huffington Post put it “sidestepping the worst pitfalls of the recession in order to maintain the status quo.”
As the Milken reported found:
"'Best performing' sometimes means retaining what you have," said Ross DeVol, director of Regional Economics and lead author of the report. "In a period of recession, the index highlights metros that have adapted to weather the storm. As we move forward in a recovery that still lacks jobs, metros will be further tested in their ability to sustain themselves."
Cities in the index were also ranked based on how well they create and keep jobs, illustrating reflected both long- and short-term measurements of employment, wages, salaries and the aforementioned tech growth. But whether you’re in Texas or the Tar Heel state, these rankings aren’t definitive….and, in this lingering economic recession, neither is job certainty.
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