Top 5 U.S. Cities with the Highest and Lowest Job Growth

December 18, 2020
Author: Glenn Hunter and Jonathan Blair

Metro-level employment data for November, released Dec. 18 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, provides a snapshot of the nation’s hottest hiring markets during the slowing economic recovery. This jobs data, together with an analysis of the nation’s top 50 most populous metros by LaborIQ® by ThinkWhy, shows that New Orleans; Richmond, Va.; Raleigh, N.C.; Las Vegas and Cleveland paced the recovery in November among the top 50 cities.

Monthly job growth varies by industry and location across the U.S.

Job growth measures employment expansion by percentage for a given area relative to other areas. New Orleans’ job growth jumped in November from essentially no growth in October, and at 1.9%, is more than double the growth of any of the other top 50 metros. The strong pace of growth in November was a welcome sign for New Orleans. The city’s overall employment level is still 8.6% below its pre-pandemic level, one of the lower rates in the nation. By comparison, the overall U.S. employment level is down 6.5%.

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

Amusement, Gambling and Recreation Industries jumped 12.5% in November from a year earlier in New Orleans. Richmond saw strong year-over-year growth in Employment Services. Raleigh continues to see strong year-over-year growth in Professional, Scientific and Technical Services, expanding 6.5% from a year earlier in November.

Other cities did not have as much traction at recouping jobs in November. Rounding out the bottom of the list are Milwaukee; Indianapolis; Orlando, Fla.; Chicago and Minneapolis. Moving into winter, cold-weather locations could face challenges maintaining jobs in the restaurant industry. Orlando’s hospitality sector continues to be plagued by rising COVID-19 cases, discouraging would-be travelers.


LaborIQ provides unique analysis on which markets are primed for hiring given current economic conditions. In the near term, the expectation is some moderation in job growth for the remainder of 2020 and early 2021 compared to record-setting months earlier this summer. As a result, recruitment firms and hiring managers should focus their efforts on cities seeing positive shifts in job growth from one month to the next, as these job markets and the businesses within them are more resilient to the macro trends in the economy.

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