Where the Jobs Will Be

Last Friday, my list of the 20 metros with the fastest-growing jobs was posted over at The Daily Beast. Jobs are the second-biggest issue facing the United States - second only to the economy, according to a recent Gallup poll - and a pending referendum on the Obama administration in the upcoming mid-term elections. As I noted:

The United States has lost an estimated 7.4 million jobs since the onset of the economic crisis. But, the economy is on track to create some 15.3 million new jobs looking out to 2018, according to projections done by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). And more than 50 million total jobs will come open, as older workers retire and many switch jobs and careers. Total U.S. employment is projected to grow by 10.1 percent over the period, according to the BLS forecast, considerably better than the 7.4 percent growth rate for previous decade (1998-2008), and roughly in line with population growth of 10.7 percent.

But where will the new jobs be located? Which places will grow the most jobs and, conversely, which will see the biggest job losses?

To get at this, my Martin Prosperity Institute (MPI) team applied the detailed employment projections of the BLS to U.S. metro regions. The BLS forecasts job trends across 22 major occupational groups which include more than 822 specific job categories for the decade 2008 through 2018. My MPI team used these BLS national forecasts to generate similar estimates for each of America's 392 metro regions. Essentially, we used the BLS overall estimations to predict job growth in each region based on its current mix of jobs.

Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be posting the results of our analysis here. I'll get us started today with a series of maps and analyses of the metros that stand to gain the most jobs overall.

The map above shows the metros with the biggest projected gains in total employment out to 2018. New York is projected to add 578,974 jobs, the most in the country. It is followed by Los Angeles (405,392), Chicago (344,740), Washington, D.C. (261,465), Atlanta (235,036), Houston (232,001), Philadelphia (202,970), Dallas (203,202), Phoenix (191,210), and Boston (186,457).

But job growth is a function of population size; it's expected that large regions will dominate the list of the biggest job generators. So, the next map (below) plots the projected percentage change in overall employment for U.S. metros.

Rochester, Minnesota, is the biggest percentage gainer, with projected job growth of 12-plus percent. The major hub cities of the Bos-Wash corridor do well with Greater Washington in second place, Greater New York in 15th, and Boston 19th. The D.C. suburb of Bethesda and Trenton-Ewing - a suburb of both New York and Philadelphia - also number among the top 10. College towns like Charlottesville, VA, Gainesville, FL, Ithaca, NY, Boulder, CO, and Corvallis, OR, which have performed well over the course of the economic crisis, number among the nation's top 20 projected job gainers.

The biggest projected job losers are mainly older manufacturing communities. Elkhart, Indiana, a region which currently ranks near the top of this list in terms of unemployment, also ranks last in terms of projected job gains, adding just 6,639 total jobs - a 5.4 percent gain. Next is Dalton, GA (5.6 percent), Morristown, TN (7 percent), Visalia, CA (7.3 percent), Columbus, IN (7.7 percent), Decatur, GA (7.7 percent), Cleveland, TN (7.8 percent), Hickory, NC (7.8 percent), Holland, MI (7.8 percent), and Gainesville, GA (7.9 percent).

But what accounts for this growth? We ran correlations for key economic, social, and demographic variables and the percentage change in employment from 2008 and 2018. These are preliminary, exploratory analyses that simply point to associations between variables. We don't make any claims here about the direction of causality, and we acknowledge that intervening variables may come into play. Several key factors emerge as driving forces in the regional jobs equation.

Size matters, but only to a very slight degree. Population is only very slightly correlated with percentage change in employment (.17).

Characteristics of the labor force and of metro economies matter much more. Human capital is very closely associated with percentage change in metro level employment (.56). The scattergraph above plots the association.

The nature of the economy is also closely associated with metro job growth. The percentage change in metro employment is closely associated with the percentage of the workforce in the creative class (.64).

But it is even more strongly associated with the share of the labor force in blue-collar, working class jobs, where the correlation is high and negative (-.84).

This suggests that the structural forces that are reshaping the U.S. economy from an industrial to a more idea, knowledge, and human capital driven post-industrial economic system will continue to deepen. Left unchecked, these forces will continue to divide the U.S. economy and U.S. society by skill-level, occupation, and economic class - the kind of work people do. And this rising economic divide of work and class will also continue to be reflected in and overlaid by a deepening geographic divide, as the geography of class compounds economic and social inequality. Public policy then will have to focus not just on generating jobs but on improving the content of many of those jobs, especially in the service class, increasing innovation and productivity, more fully utilizing and engaging workers' capabilities and talents, and improving wages.

My next post will look at the projections for blue-collar factory work. Future posts will cover projections for the growth of lower-skill, lower-pay service work and the projected increase in higher-wage knowledge and creative work.