Grubb & Ellis examined metropolitan areas with populations of 1 million or more to determine their labor market recovery rates – the percentage of jobs lost to the recession in each market that has been recovered through Nov. 2011. Six of the top 10 markets are in three adjacent states – the four big Texas metros (#2 Houston, #5 Austin, #6 San Antonio and #10 Dallas-Fort Worth) plus #3 New Orleans and #4 Oklahoma City. Energy is a big driver in this region as well as technology in Austin and ongoing reconstruction projects in New Orleans. The other four top markets are in the Northeast: #1 Pittsburgh and, in the 7th through 9th positions, Boston, Rochester, N.Y. and Washington, D.C. Education and healthcare are big drivers of growth in these metros plus energy in Pittsburgh and the public sector and related non-profits and consultants in Washington, D.C.
At the other extreme, Birmingham, Ala. has not recovered any jobs while the recovery rates in Cleveland and Atlanta are just 2 and 4 percent, respectively. The recovery rate in the U.S. overall is 28 percent. Look for continued, modest expansion in the labor market next year at roughly the same pace as 2011 – 125,000 net new payroll jobs per month. Metros with above average shares of energy, commodity, health care, education and technology businesses should grow more rapidly than average.