Job Growth

A good survey of it in U.S.  metro areas from New Geography,  and Sacramento came in 36th in the large city category, up from 43rd last year.

An excerpt.

A look at job growth in America’s small and medium-size cities provides a very different, perhaps more intimate portrait of the ground-level economy across a wider swathe of the country than our survey last week of The Best Big Cities For Jobs. It takes us to many states that lack large cities, particularly in the Midwest and South. In contrast to our big city list, information technology is a driving factor in only a handful of smaller metro areas – grittier sectors like energy and manufacturing are the livelihood of a good many, as well as tourism for a surprisingly large number of thriving places that have become vacation meccas for the increasing number of affluent residents of major urban areas.

The 421 metropolitan statistical areas we evaluated in our rankings, ranging from large to small, account for 87.6% of all U.S. nonfarm employment.  Of them, the country’s small MSAs (those with less than 150,000 nonfarm jobs) and medium-sized ones (between 150,000 and 450,000 nonfarm jobs) account for just over a third of U.S. urban employment.  Job creation in these communities since 2000 has been roughly comparable to the nation’s larger metro areas — total nonfarm employment has increased 7.5% in small and medium-size MSAs compared to 7.8% for large ones.

Our rankings are based on employment growth over the short-, medium- and long-term, going back to 2003, and factor in momentum — whether growth is slowing or accelerating. (For a detailed description of our methodology, click here.)

The Slipstream Economies

A good number of our top-ranked smaller cities are posting strong job growth in the slipstream of larger economies. This is clearly the case with our top-ranked medium-size metro area, Provo-Orem, and its northern Utah neighbor, No. 7 Ogden-Clearfield. Both are located along the Wasatch Front not far from the somewhat bright lights of Salt Lake City (and more importantly its airport) and are heavily Mormon. Provo is home to Brigham Young University, the academic center of the Mormon universe with over 29,000 students. That group’s social cohesion, which translates into a high percentage of families with children, as well as emphasis on education and enterprise, underlay the success of these areas.

But what is most striking about these two metro areas is the diversity of their economic growth. Since 2009, for example, employment in the Provo-Orem area is up 23.5%, with gains in virtually every sector, paced by increases in construction and natural resources (60%), information (30.1%), business services (46.5%) and even manufacturing (16.4%). With the exception of information jobs, Ogden has showed a similar, albeit less spectacular pattern of widespread economic growth over the same time period.

Other slipstream economies that are thriving include our second-ranked small city. Greeley, Colo., slightly over an hour’s drive from the Denver airport. Greeley rose seven places from last year, powered largely by 114% employment growth since 2009 in construction and natural resources (oil and gas mostly) as well as solid expansions in business services (up 29.8%) and manufacturing (up 17.2%). As in the case of Provo and Ogden, Greeley benefits from being close to a dynamic large metro area, but can couple that with prized small town attributes like less traffic, good schools, relatively low housing prices and safe streets.

Retrieved June 13, 2015 from


About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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