MSA Employment Report for the Year Ending February 2019

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

HFF is pleased to report on MSA Employment for the year ending February 2019. Our research team analyzes trends and data to give readers a better view into the current state of the economy and how employment is being affected. Please note that we have added several new sections to the report to better explain the employment situation. 

Employment Growth Rankings

Dallas and New York were the only MSAs able to create more than 100,000 jobs. The top eight MSAs were able to create more than 50,000 jobs. Employment in national HFF markets grew by 1.57% in the 12 months ending February 2019 and added 961,800 jobs during the year, accounting for 39% of the nation’s headline growth. The top 10 expanding employment bases below combined to account for approximately 27.5% of the nation’s overall growth in the past year.



Altering our perspective to percentage growth (to level the playing field), we see that Orlando, Houston, Phoenix, Dallas, Atlanta and San Francisco remain in the top 10. Large markets such as New York and Los Angeles now lag given their respective percentage growth rates below 1.26%, the median of the 50 markets below. Orlando, Nashville and Phoenix lead the markets with growth rates greater than 3%. Employment growth continues to be strong, with approximately 21 markets now expanding at a rate in excess of 1.5%.



Historical Employment Growth (Five-Year Lookback)

Here we can see that employment growth for 28% of the MSAs are accelerating compared with last year. Sixteen percent of the MSAs have growth rates closer to their five-year maximum than their five-year minimum.



Forecasted Employment Growth (Growth Slows)

Here we look at the difference between the five-year annualized forecasted employment growth and the annualized growth we’ve seen in the past five years. Growth is forecasted to slow substantially for all major MSAs tracked.



Unemployment Rate and Labor Force Growth

Here we can see that the Unemployment Rate is falling year over year for 38 of our 50 MSAs. Note that labor force growth is important in this narrative:

  • Nashville’s labor force grew by 4% year over year and they still managed to have the lowest Unemployment Rate of 2.4%. 
  • However, Buffalo’s labor force shrunk by 1.1%, contributing to the decline in unemployment from 6.4 to 4.7%. 

A total of 14 MSAs saw their labor force decline in the past year.


How to read: The vertical lines shows the range of the unemployment rate for the last two years.  The box shows the year-over-year change of the Unemployment Rate. If the box is orange, the Unemployment Rate has decreased (the bottom of the box is the current rate and the top is last year's rate).  If the box is clear, it has increased (the top of the box is the current rate and the bottom is last year's rate).


Unemployment Rate

Thirty-eight of our tracked MSAs have an Unemployment Rate less than the national level, and 31 are below 4%.    


Sources: HFF Research, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Labor, Bloomberg, Oxford Economics

Prepared by: National Research Analyst Laura Bancroft

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