Media Relations

March 20, 2017

Top 10 cities and states for job growth

W. P. Carey School of Business researchers calculated rankings of the nonfarm job growth winners and losers.
TEMPE, Ariz. (March 20, 2017) — Researchers at Arizona State University completed their analysis of the latest revised data on 2016 employment growth among states and metro areas. Economists at the W. P. Carey School of Business calculated rankings of the nonfarm job growth winners and losers.

“According to the final figures now available, job creation of 4.2 percent made Orlando the fastest growing large metro area labor market last year,” said Research Professor Lee McPheters.

“Employment growth of 3.6 percent put Utah first among the states for the second consecutive year,” he said.

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show overall U.S. nonfarm employment grew by 1.7 percent in 2016 and the economy added 2.5 million new jobs.

Top 10 cities and surrounding metro areas (1 million or more workers), for nonfarm job growth in 2016: 1. Orlando – up 4.2 percent

2. Austin – up 3.8 percent

3. Tampa – up 3.7 percent

4. San Francisco – up 3.6 percent

5. Riverside – up 3.5 percent

6. Seattle – up 3.4 percent

7. Atlanta – up 3.3 percent

8. Dallas – up 3.2 percent

9. Phoenix – up 3.1 percent

10. San Jose – up 3.1 percent (tie)

Top 10 states for nonfarm job growth in 2016:

1. Utah – up 3.6 percent

2. Idaho – up 3.5 percent

3. Florida – up 3.4 percent

4. Nevada – up 3.3 percent (tie)

5. Washington – up 3.1 percent

6. Oregon – up 2.9 percent

7. Georgia – up 2.7 percent

8. California – up 2.6 percent

9. Arizona – up 2.6 percent (tie)

10. Tennessee – up 2.5 percent


Three of the top 10 metro areas were from California (San Francisco, Riverside, and San Jose), two were from Florida (Orlando, Tampa) and two were from Texas (Austin, Dallas). “Seattle, Atlanta and Phoenix were newcomers to the top 10 metro list,” said McPheters. “They replaced Denver, San Antonio, and Miami.”

None of the 34 metro areas with labor force greater than one million workers lost jobs, but Cleveland and Pittsburgh fell to the bottom of the rankings with job growth of less than one percent.

The top 10 ranking slots were filled by states from only two regions, with seven from the West (Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, California, and Arizona) and three from the Southeast (Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee). In addition to leading in overall nonfarm job growth, Utah also ranked first in the rate of job creation in retail trade, second in health care, and third in finance and insurance.

Florida led in the rate of growth of new construction jobs with a gain of 9.5 percent for the year. Idaho ranked first in manufacturing, growing 4.0 percent, and Nevada was the number one state for the growth of new jobs in health care, up 5.4 percent. California led all states in job gains in the high-tech oriented information sector, up 7.8 percent.

Six states (Oklahoma, Louisiana, West Virginia, Alaska, Wyoming, and North Dakota) lost jobs in 2016. Prior to the slump in oil prices, North Dakota ranked first in the rate of job growth for six years (2009-2014).


Arizona, in 9th place, moved into the top 10 states for job creation in 2016 for the first time since 2013. The state ranked second in financial job growth and fifth in health care. The health care sector was also the single largest source of growth, with 13,550 new jobs, one in five of the 68,000 jobs added in the state in 2016.

A voter initiative raised the state’s minimum wage to $10 an hour in January, the largest dollar and percentage increase of any of the 20 states to increase the minimum, but preliminary January figures don’t show any apparent effects of the wage increase.

“We looked at food service job growth, since our analysis showed 75 percent of food service workers would be affected,” said McPheters. “Compared to past Januaries, this was the largest increase on record, with over 12,000 new food service jobs added year on year. We’ll be watching this play out over the next few months, since this is the kind of state-wide laboratory experiment economists need to really understand the economy.”

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 2016 figures select 12-month moving average and December, 2016.


The W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University is one of the top-ranked and largest business schools in the United States. The school is internationally regarded for its research productivity and its distinguished faculty members, including a Nobel Prize winner. Students come from about 100 countries and include about 50 National Merit Scholars.

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