Top 5 Hottest and Coldest U.S. Hiring Markets

January 27, 2021

Where to source talent is a hot topic among HR leaders, talent acquisition professionals and recruiters alike. Within a new and remote workforce, there may be more than one location that breeds opportunity for finding the right talent, at the right pay.

The nation’s hottest and coldest hiring markets are revealed.

The pandemic continues to play a role in how fast U.S. job markets recover.

December 2020 jobs data, together with an analysis of the nation’s top 50 most populous metro areas, shows the following cities were leaders in job growth.

  1. Kansas City, MO
  2. Salt Lake City, UT
  3. Indianapolis, IN
  4. Raleigh, NC
  5. Atlanta, GA

Job growth measures employment expansion by percentage for a given area relative to other areas. Raleigh makes the top 5 list for the second straight month, and both Salt Lake City and Indianapolis have nearly returned to their pre-pandemic employment levels - meaning almost all jobs lost have been recovered.

Related: Where the Jobs Will Be: 2021’s Top Hiring Markets

Mining construction expanded 6.8% in Kansas City from a year ago. Repair and maintenance, along with lending, had a strong December in Salt Lake City. Indianapolis saw strong year-over-year growth in construction and restaurants.

Raleigh continues to see solid year-over-year growth in professional, scientific and technical services, expanding 6.5% from a year earlier. In Atlanta, the professional and business services industry fared well, expanding in management and tech companies.

Other cities in the top 50 were much less successful in recouping jobs in December. Coming in at the bottom of the list are:

  1. Providence, RI
  2. Denver, CO
  3. Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN
  4. Portland, OR,
  5. Detroit, MI

Until vaccinations against COVID-19 become more widespread, cold-weather locations like several in the bottom 5 are likely to face challenges maintaining jobs in the already struggling restaurant industry, for example.


LaborIQ provides unique analysis on which markets are primed for hiring given current economic conditions. In the near term, slower job growth is expected in early 2021 compared to record-setting months last summer. As a result, recruitment firms and talent acquisition teams should focus their efforts on cities experiencing positive shifts in job growth from one month to the next. It’s these job markets and the businesses within them that will be more resilient to the economy’s macro trends.

LaborIQ by ThinkWhy continuously forecasts and reports labor data at all levels, measuring impact to cities, industries, occupations and business across the U.S.