With the news that U.S. businesses added a solid 205,000 jobs last month, we wanted to share data from our own site on metropolitan areas that experienced the highest percentages of growth from 4th quarter 2014 to 4th quarter 2015. If last month's report from the Bureau of Labor & Statistics is any indicator, most sectors added enough new jobs in December of 2015 to make up for job losses in November.
The below graph shows job market supply and demand per capita using data from our Jobs2Careers.com site, which supports economists' predictions and BLS data for 2016.
Growth in Job Searches by Percentage, Q4 2014 v. Q4 2015
|Beaumont-Port Arthur TX||89.42%|
|San Angelo TX||43.58%|
|Lake Charles LA||39.79%|
|Sioux City IA||33.94%|
|Wichita Falls TX & Lawton OK||33.36%|
|North Platte NE||30.99%|
|Florence-Myrtle Beach SC||30.95%|
|Joplin MO-Pittsburg KS||30.08%|
|Dallas-Ft. Worth TX||29.42%|
*Percentage in growth of job searches by metropolitan area, Q4 2014 vs. Q4 2015, data from Jobs2Careers.com.
Not surprisingly, six of the top 20 metros are in Texas, which has experienced a pretty large increase in new jobs, as the Dallas Business Journal reported last month. Outside of oil and gas drilling and manufacturing sectors, job growth is very strong. It makes sense, considering most of the growth in new jobs has been in states with a right-to-work law. In the past 10 years, the states with the highest private sector job growth have been right-to-work (and Texas is one of them).
Texas employers added 26,500 private sector jobs in December — up from 24,100 in November, 17,200 in October, and 14,300 in September, according to payroll processor ADP.
Nationally, the unemployment rate remained steady in December of 2015—holding at 5%, which means businesses are steadily adding jobs in most sectors other than manufacturing, which has suffered from the high cost of U.S. goods overseas. It's not ALL good news, as some economists expect the growth in new jobs to slow as the market levels off in 2016.
But for all the good news, the outlook for the coming months is uncertain. The new year has begun with a plunging stock market in China, which has roiled global financial markets and intensified fears of a worldwide economic slowdown. Even before the market slump, U.S. manufacturers were feeling the pinch: Data released in January showed the factory sector contracting sharply at the end of 2015. And the U.S. economy will need to weather the storm with less help from the Federal Reserve, which raised interest rates in December and is likely to do so again later this year.
Still, December’s strong numbers showed that the job market has substantial momentum. Employers added 2.7 million non-agricultural jobs in 2015, down a bit from the 3.2 million added in 2014 but still strong. The economy has added jobs for 63 consecutive months, the longest streak on record; the U.S. has added 13.6 million jobs since the labor market bottomed out in early 2010, and 4.9 million since the recession began in December 2007.
Moreover, there may still be room for further improvement. The unemployment rate, at 5 percent, is at or near what many economists consider the economy’s natural long-term floor. (Any lower, this theory goes, and inflation will start to pick up.) But the labor force grew by 466,000 in December as people came off the sidelines to accept jobs or look for work. For years, economists have been debating whether the millions of Americans who left the workforce during the recession will ever return to work. Friday’s report suggests that they are returning, which could allow job growth to continue without driving up inflation and threatening the broader economic recovery.
The U.S. job market ended 2015 on an unexpectedly high note. Now the question is whether it can sustain that momentum in a new year that is already off to a rocky start.