Media Relations

March 17, 2016

Top 10 cities and states for job growth in 2015

The U.S. economy added 2.9 million new jobs in 2015, the most since 1999. This week, final figures were released detailing the contributions to national nonfarm job growth made by states and metro areas. Research Professor Lee McPheters of the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University provides rankings and analysis of the winners and losers, based on the latest data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Top 10 cities and surrounding metro areas (1 million or more workers), for nonfarm job growth in 2015:

1. Riverside, CA – up 4.5 percent
2. Orlando – up 4.2 percent
3. San Jose – up 4.1 percent
4. Dallas – up 3.9 percent
5. San Francisco – up 3.7 percent
6. Denver – up 3.6 percent
7. Tampa – up 3.4 percent
8. Atlanta – up 3.3 percent
    Miami – up 3.3 percent
    Portland, OR – up 3.3 percent (3-way tie)

Top 10 states for nonfarm job growth in 2015:

1. Utah – up 3.8 percent
2. Florida – up 3.4 percent
3. Nevada – up 3.3 percent
    Oregon – up 3.3 percent (tie)
5. Colorado – up 3.1 percent
6. California – up 3.0 percent
    Idaho – up 3.0 percent (tie)
8. Georgia – up 2.9 percent
    Washington – up 2.9 percent (tie)
10. South Carolina – up 2.7 percent

Labor market conditions continued to improve in 2015 as U.S. nonfarm employment reached an all-time high of 143.1 million jobs and the unemployment rate declined to end the year at 5.0 percent.

Utah led the nation in the rate of creation of new jobs (up 3.8 percent) but California and Florida dominated the rankings of fastest growing metro areas, with three from each state. Riverside, California set the pace for metro area nonfarm job growth in 2015 with gains of 4.5 percent.

“Compared to prior years, the biggest change in the 2015 state rankings came from the oil and gas slowdown that hit both North Dakota and Texas,” says McPheters, director of the JPMorgan Chase Economic Outlook Center at the W. P. Carey School of Business. “North Dakota was the number one state for job gains for the past several years, but that position has completely reversed. We have North Dakota as 50th in job growth for 2015, and losing jobs for the year.” Texas fell out of the top 10 states, dropping from 5th place to 14th in 2015, although the Dallas metro area ranked among the top five for job growth.

The top 10 ranking slots were filled by states from only two regions, the West and Southeast. Seven of the top 10 are from the West (Utah, Nevada, Oregon, Colorado, California, Idaho and Washington), with the remainder from the Southeast (Florida, Georgia and South Carolina).

In addition to leading in overall nonfarm job growth, Utah also ranked first in the rate of job creation in several sectors of the economy, including retail trade, financial activity, and professional, scientific and technical services.

Nevada led in the rate of growth of construction jobs with a gain of 10 percent for the year. Delaware ranked first in manufacturing growth rate, and Colorado was the number one state for the growth of new jobs in health care. California led all states in new jobs in the high-tech oriented information sector.

Three states lost jobs in 2015. In addition to North Dakota, the job losses were recorded in Wyoming and West Virginia.

The full rankings and other job-growth data from McPheters can be found at the W. P. Carey School of Business Job Growth USA website. To see the 2015 figures select 12-month moving average and December 2015.