Who Let the Talent Out? Net Migration Fueling Top Labor Markets

August 6, 2021
Author: Jay Denton

Few things are more important for a company’s success than knowledge about the markets in which it operates or may enter in the future.

Accurate market intelligence is critical for making smart tactical and strategic business plans.

Leveraging advanced methodology for measuring performance of the nation’s top metropolitan areas, from employment conditions to diversity and demographics, can help organizations uncover recruiting and hiring strategies in a tight labor market.

The U.S. economy has made substantial ground recouping 16.7 million of the 22.4 million jobs lost during the initial stages of the pandemic, but the recovery has varied significantly based on location. 

Hiring managers and talent acquisition professionals have faced various levels of challenges and successes depending on the available talent in their local market. Some of the strongest labor markets have experienced robust net migration, with people moving more frequently for employment opportunities, which has fueled talent supply.

LaborIQ Index: Market Rankings

The LaborIQ® Index identifies and tracks 10 key performance indicators that best measure and rank a local economy’s performance. These indicators or variables are present in every market and represent the greatest drivers of a market’s economic progress or decline, and now, each metro’s progression toward pre-pandemic employment levels and recovery.

The ranking index provides businesses and talent acquisition professionals a strong evaluation of which U.S. cities are recouping jobs, attracting talent, as well as those primed for recruiting and hiring.  

What do these metros have in common? Eight of the 10 markets rank in the top 25 for net migration, representing people moving to these areas, as opposed to natural population growth. Often, people are relocating for a job opportunity, but family and retirement also factor into the equation. Dallas, Phoenix and Austin currently rank in the top three for net migration, in additional to topping the overall performance ranking.  

Sustained population growth also helps drive activity in the labor market with continual additions to the talent pool. Half of the metros in the top 10 are in Utah, Texas and Idaho, which also ranked as the top three states for population growth over the last decade. As job openings increase, the influx of human capital in these areas has rebounded significantly, putting each metro in stronger position than most to fill open jobs. 

The Standout Performer: Denver, CO

The Denver area has been the biggest mover during the past year. The metro ranks highly in a variety of categories, with expectations that it will top the best-performing metros list for an extended period.

Out of 150 metros, Denver ranks in the top 25 for:

  • Working-age population size and growth,
  • Net migration,
  • Annual job gain,
  • Level of wages,
  • Percentage of workforce with an associate degree or higher, and
  • Total number of college graduates. 

Look for Denver to be a talent magnet, pulling candidates from other metros as it maintains its status as one of the nation’s top landing spots for new hires.

In addition to Denver, four other metros rank high in overall economic progress.

Despite the pandemic, people and businesses were already on the move into the Dallas-Fort Worth and Austin areas, and with additional availability of talent, these metros have recovered jobs more quickly, ranking them at numbers 1 and 3, respectively, for overall performance.

Similar drivers have placed Phoenix in the number 2 spot, and Raleigh at number 4, with net migration and job growth accelerating recovery in these markets.

Today’s labor market is tighter than ever and recruiting talent continues to be a challenge for most organizations. With the LaborIQ® Index, organizations have an advanced tool to understand the viability of a market for talent and business growth opportunities.