The two hottest U.S. job markets in 2019 were growing Southern state capitals with vibrant music scenes and an influx of technology jobs.
Austin, Texas, topped the list for the second consecutive year, according to a Wall Street Journal ranking of new data collected by Moody’s Analytics. Nashville, Tenn., jumped to the No. 2 spot from seventh. Both cities anchor metropolitan areas of around two million people.
The Journal worked with Moody’s Analytics to assess the labor market in 381 metro areas. Each region was ranked on five metrics: the unemployment rate, labor-force participation rate, job growth, labor-force growth and wage growth.
An average of those rankings was used to determine the hottest labor market in the U.S. for metro areas with more than one million people, and separately for less populous regions.
Austin—a tech hub and college town—remains attractive to workers thanks to low unemployment and high wage growth. Nashville has low unemployment and high labor-force growth.
Apple Inc. is among companies bringing jobs to Austin. In 2019, it started construction of a $1 billion corporate campus with a capacity for up to 15,000 employees. It already has 7,000 workers in Austin.
Denver moved up in the ranks to third place from ninth. Seattle and San Francisco also moved up to round out the top five large metropolitan areas for job growth.
Among smaller metropolitan areas, Boulder, Colo., beat out Midland, Texas, for the top of the list. Two other Colorado areas—Greeley and Fort Collins—made the top 10.
To determine the rankings, five metrics were used:
• The unemployment rate—a low rate suggests ample opportunities for those seeking work
• Labor-force participation rate—shows what share of adults is employed or seeking work.
• Job growth—the rate at which employers added to payrolls last year.
• Labor force growth—shows whether a region is attracting new workers, either from elsewhere or off the sideline.
• Wage growth—shows whether employers are paying more to attract and retain workers.
—Eric Morath contributed to this article.
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