Anyone who lived through the national financial meltdown that culminated in what economists now call the “Great Recession” knew it was bad, but the numbers just confirm it.
In the four years since the economy hit rock bottom in September 2008 to the latest private sector employment count in February, only seven of the nation’s 100 biggest metros added more jobs than they lost, according to comparative data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Not surprisingly, five of those cities were from Texas– a state which not only weathered the recession with amazing resilience, but also boasts the healthiest post-recession economy of any state.
Cities that created a surplus of jobs during the past four years include:
4. McAllen-Edinburg, TX
5. El Paso
6. San Antonio
7. New Orleans
Houston and Austin set the national pace for employment growth, adding 49,500 and 29,600 jobs respectively, while Pittsburg came in third with 10,500 private sector jobs.
The Texas Job Streak
Since the recession officially ended in June 2009, the Lone Star State has earned national acclaim for creating one out of every two new jobs in the U.S. in top growth sectors such as business and processional services, education and health care, and leisure and hospitality. Texas now has more Fortune 500 companies – 58 – than any other state, including longtime corporate powerhouse New York.
Much of Austin’s private sector growth has come from a growing list of homegrown and outside companies, from local start-ups like video game developer EA Sports to multinational corporations such as Samsung, Nokia, Siemens and Fujitsu. Apple and eBay are the two latest high-profile companies to announce multimillion-dollar investments in the city – both for expansions in business, back office and customer support operations.
Not only is Houston a major center of the energy business, it also operates one of the nation’s busiest ports and, with its recent $14.7 billion surge in exports, is the second largest exporting metro in dollar values.
San Antonio is building a reputation as a growing hub for biotech research and development, and El Paso continues to thrive as North America’s largest global manufacturing center, thanks to border advantages and production sharing with maquilas in nearby Juarez, Mexico.
Bouncing Back from the Recession
Despite an upswing in hiring over the past year, most U.S. metros are still in the red when it comes to recovering their pre-recession employment levels. Look beyond the gains in the seven cities mentioned above, and the numbers start to dip dramatically. Most cities are still in the hole by thousands of jobs, but some are starting to catch up.
Charleston, S.C., for example, has kept its losses to a minimum, shedding just 5,900 jobs since the recession. With private sector employment at 236,600 as of February, the city is on pace to recover its pre-recession levels of 242,500. Along with a thriving transportation and logistics industry that includes a major East Coast port, Charleston has grown its aerospace sector, attracting investments from companies like Boeing, whose $870 million 787 Dreamliner assembly project has created more than 4,000 direct jobs in the region.
With just 7,400 jobs to recoup to reach its pre-recession levels, Nashville is also making strides, thanks to its diverse industry base and growth in its manufacturing, health care and financial services sectors.
Where does your city rank? What is being done to recoup the jobs lost and create new ones in your region? Please share your thoughts below.