Top U.S. Cities for Jobs and Hiring

May 21, 2021

With economic activity on the rise, businesses need to hire to meet customer demand, but competition for talent is fierce. Talent acquisition professionals who can pinpoint the best locations to target recruitment efforts and source talent will have an advantage. With unemployment rates already low for many types of roles, new jobs being added means talent supply is falling and hiring managers could potentially need to consider more competitive wages to lure candidates.

Click on the dots in the map to see key hiring stats for the 50 largest labor markets in the U.S. Below the map, find out which labor markets topped LaborIQ’s lists for these metrics in April 2021. One year ago, unprecedented job loss impacted the economy. This list reveals how markets are faring in the ongoing recovery.

ThinkWhy’s talent intelligence software, LaborIQ®, assesses the health of job markets based on the:

  • Number of new jobs added
  • Percentage of growth in jobs from the prior period
  • Current employment level compared to the pre-pandemic level

Most New Jobs Added

The highest volumes of new jobs are influenced by a location’s population. Since overall job gain usually favors bigger cities, it isn’t surprising that Los Angeles continues to top the list. By sheer volume, larger markets will continue to lead in job gain, although many lost significant portions of their workforce. Not only are the metros below the leaders for number of jobs added for April, but they are projected to be some of the top locations for jobs added the next few years, which suggests a lot of demand for talent acquisition professionals.

Best Month-to-Month Improvement

April metro-level employment data, combined with LaborIQ’s analysis of the nation’s top 50 most populous metro areas, show the following cities leading in job growth.

These five cities experienced the highest job growth in April. This comparison allows a more apples-to-apples comparison between large and midsized cities. The locations growing the fastest on a relative basis tends to be a better indicator as to how quickly available talent supply is shrinking.


Pre-pandemic Employment Levels Comparison

Another metric that sheds light on the availability of talent is how the current employment level compares to that of February 2020, which preceded the pandemic economic fallout. This metric may not shift drastically month-to-month, but it’s worth keeping an eye on these metros because their talent supply is tightening. Businesses in these cities will likely be targeting the employment base in other metros for relocation or remote work to keep up with demand.

In April, the metro closest back to pre-pandemic standing is Salt Lake City. The only change in April’s top five is that Memphis, Tenn. slipped from the fifth spot. The other four markets remained unchanged from March. LaborIQ lists the following five cities as being closest to their pre-pandemic employment levels.

All figures used are seasonally adjusted.

The lists above focus on the top five markets but refer to the map above to find opportunities for your business. Locations underperforming in these categories, particularly related to pre-pandemic employment levels, may have a desirable talent pool or customer base for your business.


After a surprisingly slow month of labor market improvement in April, the hiring market is faced with some short-term challenges that will have an impact on the overall recovery. LaborIQ still expects robust hiring in the second half of 2021. With the virus now under control in many areas, restrictions and mask mandates continue to be lifted. Some of the hardest-hit industries and cities are experiencing strong job gains. This trend will likely continue, as demand and the need to fill openings climb.

Talent acquisition professionals and hiring managers may find it challenging to find workers. Their recruitment efforts will be focused on persuading those remaining out of the labor force to return and convincing employed workers to switch jobs. As confidence grows in the economy, more employees may be open to switching jobs, especially in cities seeing rapid job growth and have already surpassed their pre-pandemic employment levels. Getting people off the sidelines may become less challenging as supplemental unemployment benefits expire and schools fully reopen. However, some businesses will fill the pinch in the short term due to those obstacles. Now is the time to assess and fill your talent pipeline.

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