Salt Lake City has top-notch ski resorts, challenging bike trails and breathtaking views of the Wasatch Mountains. It also is home to the hottest job market in the U.S.
As the pandemic raged through the U.S. in 2020, no metropolitan area in the country expanded the size of its labor force more on a percentage basis than Utah’s capital. It also had the lowest average unemployment rate and the highest share of people working or looking for jobs. These signs of strength helped it rank first among 53 large metro areas in an annual examination of U.S. labor markets conducted by The Wall Street Journal, after ranking No. 4 in 2019.
Other cities that emerged as beacons to job seekers and businesses during the pandemic were, like Salt Lake City, located far from the coasts. Hubs in the Southwest and Midwest such as Austin, Denver, Indianapolis and Kansas City minimized employment losses, kept unemployment relatively low and retained and attracted workers in a year when the U.S. lost more than 9 million jobs.
Some benefited from technology jobs that became even more critical during a time of isolation for many Americans, while others relied on older corners of the economy that were also in high demand. Workers gravitated to these places due to the job opportunities, lower costs and a quieter lifestyle that appealed to some migrants from bigger population centers who were now allowed to work remotely.
The losers were tourist hot spots such as Las Vegas or densely-populated cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago that lost workers as the coronavirus spread. Even once-hot tech hubs of San Francisco, Raleigh, N.C., and Boston suffered declines. Some of these laggards were more aggressive with their business lockdowns, allowing rival metros with fewer restrictions and lower costs to capitalize on the chaos.
Whether these changes are temporary or lasting is too soon to know. Some cities that lost a lot of jobs in 2020 likely rebounded with more robust hiring in March, according to a Labor Department report from early April that showed strong national job gains in restaurants, bars, entertainment and hotels. Forecasters surveyed by The Wall Street Journal project about 6 million jobs to be added across the U.S. in the next 12 months, which would be the best such stretch of job creation on records back to the 1940s.
Some expect the top performers in 2020 to consolidate their gains. “Coming out of the pandemic, and out of this recession, their edge is probably only going to get larger,” said Moody’s Analytics economist Adam Kamins. Moody’s Analytics provided data for The Wall Street Journal’s rankings…Read more>>