Cream of the Crop: The Nation’s Top Markets for Hiring

August 21, 2020
Author: Glenn Hunter and Jonathan Blair

Metro-level employment data released August 21 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a snapshot of the nation’s top markets for hiring in the midst of COVID-19. This jobs data, together with an analysis of the nation’s top 50 most populous metros by LaborIQ® by ThinkWhy, shows that Orlando, New York, and Tucson are pacing the economic recovery among these large metros, albeit by different measures.

Job gain, job growth and employment levels impact the top markets for hiring in July 2020.

Job growth, for example, measures employment expansion by percentage for a given area relative to other areas. Orlando showed the highest relative job growth in July, likely based on strong gains in the Leisure and Hospitality sector. It is worth watching to see if the growth is part of a sustainable recovery or just a lift from seasonal summer tourism.

July 2020 job growth chart-2

Job gain is an absolute measure of employment expansion in a location, with a bias toward areas with larger populations. New York tops this list, and Orlando also made the cut. From a recruiting standpoint, the job-gain measure is helpful because it shows the net number of new roles being created in a market.

July 2020 job gain chart

Another measure of the health of a market is to compare its current employment level to February 2020, before a noticeable hit based on COVID-19 took hold. No metro has fully recovered the number of jobs it had in February, but the list below – topped by Tucson, Indianapolis and Kansas City – shows those metros that were closest in July to their pre-pandemic job levels.

These markets might not necessarily show up on the biggest gain or growth lists at this point because they did not lose as many jobs during the pandemic’s early stages. But they can be considered healthier because more jobs remain intact relative to earlier this year.

July 2020 employment level chart


There are multiple ways to analyze which markets are the best for hiring. LaborIQ® by ThinkWhy projects some moderation in job growth in the second half of 2020 when compared to record-setting months earlier in the summer. If job growth does slow, focusing on markets that are closest to their previous levels of employment will likely be key, as these markets and the businesses within them are displaying more resilience to the macro trends.

ThinkWhy continuously monitors and forecasts labor data at all levels, measuring impact to MSAs, industries, occupations, businesses and salaries across the U.S.