End-of-Year Rankings: The 15 Top-Performing Job Markets

December 30, 2020
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Author: Jay Denton and Jonathan Blair

As a year filled with lots of economic ups and downs comes to an end, LaborIQ® by ThinkWhy ranks the top 15 U.S. job markets. They are clustered mainly in Texas and the Southeast, along with a few locations in the Pacific Northwest.

These 15 job markets fared best in December 2020.

The top 15 markets are from the proprietary LaborIQ Index, which ranks 150 of the top U.S. metropolitan areas by 10 key economic variables.

Related: 7 Economic Indicators That Impact Your Business

According to the LaborIQ Index, the top 15 U.S. markets for jobs in December are, in order:

1. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX
2. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
3. Boise City, ID
4. Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC
5. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL
6. Durham-Chapel Hill, NC
7. Austin-Round Rock, TX
8. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA
9. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA
10. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX
11. Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL
12. Huntsville, AL
13. Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, SC
14. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA
15. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV

LaborIQ’s labor market model combines the latest movement in the job market, as well as underlying market drivers such as wage growth, population movement and how educated the workforce is.


Jay Denton of ThinkWhy gives an overview of LaborIQ's top 15 job markets.

The overall economic performance of these top 15 markets is why these cities rank so high on the LaborIQ Index. While these markets aren’t necessarily the best in all 10 variables, each excels in certain of them. For example, smaller markets like Boise, Huntsville and Greenville are strong in job retention and recovery. Some big markets such as Dallas, Denver, Tampa and Houston are fueled by population growth. Seattle is rated high for wage growth, and Austin, Durham and Portland score well for educational attainment. Markets rated towards the top of the list tend to rank highly in multiple categories.

Notably absent from the list are locations in California, the Midwest and the Northeast. As we move past the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, hiring should become robust there as these markets recover. Right now, that will most likely happen in the second half of 2021.

LaborIQ by ThinkWhy reports, forecasts and advises on employment conditions and the impact to jobs, industries and businesses across all U.S. cities.