U.S. Cities Leading in Hiring and Job Creation

April 16, 2021

The economy is gaining momentum. March kicked off a surge of hiring and job creation. In addition to the 916,000 jobs added in March, the Department of Labor reported the lowest weekly initial unemployment claims since the pandemic began for the week ending April 10. Looking at the latest metro-level employment data for March from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, we can highlight which locations are seeing the most gains recovering jobs and creating new ones.

As economic activity expands, businesses will need to hire to meet customer demand. Talent acquisition professionals who can pinpoint the best locations to target recruitment efforts and source talent will have an advantage over competitors. Click on the dots in the map above to see key hiring stats for the 50 largest labor markets in the U.S.

Below, find out which labor markets topped LaborIQ by ThinkWhy’s lists for job growth, job gain level, and percentage of jobs left to recapture compared to the pre-pandemic employment level.

Are you ready to see the nation’s hottest hiring markets in March 2021?

Job Growth

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

1. Oklahoma, City, OK
2. Memphis, TN
3. Austin-Round Rock, TX
4. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX
5. Kansas City, MO-KS

These five cities experienced the highest job growth in March. Seasonally adjusted job growth shows where jobs are created month-to-month and allows comparisons of job growth between large and mid-size cities.


Job Gain

Job gain is influenced by a location’s population and is a measure of the number of jobs for a given period. 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. While the pandemic has reshaped these economies in unique ways, the steady increase in economic activity makes it likely that talent acquisition professionals can expect to have many positions to fill.

1. Los Angeles
2. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
3. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX
4. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX
5. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI

It is not surprising to see Texas markets near the top of this list. Though Winter Storm Uri disrupted hiring across the state in February, March’s bounce back landed three Texas markets in the top nine for job gain (No. 9 Austin: 9,900 jobs).

Pre-pandemic Employment Levels

Another metric that sheds light on the labor market is how the current employment level compares to that of February 2020, which preceded the pandemic economic fallout. In March, the metro closest back to pre-pandemic standing is Salt Lake City. This metric may not shift drastically month-to-month, but any changes to it is a good vital sign for a metro’s economy during the recovery. LaborIQ lists the following five cities as being closest to their pre-pandemic employment levels.

1. Salt Lake City
2. Jacksonville, Fla.
3. Austin, Texas
4. Raleigh, N.C.
5. Memphis, TN

The lists above focus on the top hiring 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, could have a desirable talent pool or customer base for your business.


After six consecutive months of slowing job growth at the end of 2020, the hiring market is on the upswing and momentum is increasing. With the virus more controlled in many areas compared to a few months ago, consumers have begun to spend more. Some of the hardest-hit industries and cities are experiencing strong gains. This trend will likely continue, as demand and the need to fill openings climbs.

Human resources and talent acquisition teams will increasingly find it challenging to find enough talent. As confidence grows in the economy, employees may be more open to switching jobs, especially in cities seeing rapid job growth and have already surpassed their pre-pandemic employment levels. In these cities, retaining top talent will become a bigger challenge than it has been during the past 12 months.

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