Best cities for jobs: Texas runs the tableThe annual best cities for jobs ranking was released this week at Forbes, and Texas ran the table with the top 5 slots on the large city list: Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Ft. Worth, and Dallas. That's pretty impressive when you think about it. Still, everybody is hurting now, we're just hurting less than elsewhere. Excerpts:
On a related note, a somewhat expanded and refined version of my recent post on Texas and America's four great growth waves has been published on the New Geography site here: America's four great growth waves and the world cities they produced.
The top of the complete ranking--which, for ease, we have broken down into the two smaller lists, of the best big and small cities for jobs--is dominated by one state: Texas. The Lone Star State may have lost a powerful advocate in Washington, but it's home to a remarkable eight of the top 20 cities on our list--including No. 1-ranked Odessa, a small city in the state's northwestern region. Further, the top five large metropolitan areas for job growth--Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Ft. Worth and Dallas--are all in Texas' "urban triangle."
The reasons for the state's relative success are varied. A healthy energy industry is certainly one cause. Many Texas high-fliers, including Odessa, Longview, Dallas and Houston, are home to energy companies that employ hordes of people--and usually at fairly high salaries for both blue- and white-collar workers. In some places, these spurts represent a huge reversal from the late 1990s. Take Odessa's remarkable 5.5% job growth in 2008, which followed a period of growth well under 1% from 1998 to 2002.
Looking at the energy sector's hotbeds, however, doesn't tell the whole story. Another major factor behind a city's job offerings is how severely it experienced the housing crisis. There's a "zone of sanity" across the middle of the country, including Kansas City, Mo., that largely avoided the real estate bubble and the subsequent foreclosure crisis.
Still other factors correlating with job growth--as evidenced by Shires' and my current and past studies--are lower costs and taxes. ... Compared with high-tech centers in California and the Northeast, such as San José and Boston, places like Austin offer both tax and housing-cost bargains, as do Fargo, N.D. and Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C.
Specifically, the college town winners include not only well-known places like Austin and Chapel Hill, but also less-hyped places like Athens, Ga., home of the University of Georgia; College Station, Texas, where 48,000-student Texas A&M University is located; Morgantown, W.Va., site of the University of West Virginia; and Fargo, the hub of North Dakota State University.