Published on: September 29, 2021
BY TED C. JONES, PH.D.
The pandemic continues to create headwinds across many of the 380 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) which have monthly job numbers reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Though the U.S. economy added 235,000 net new jobs in August, those were not equally distributed across the country. The U.S. is still short 5.333 million jobs compared to February 2020 -- the month prior to the pandemic. At the rate of job growth seen in August, it will take almost two years (23 months) until the U.S. gets back to the job numbers before COVID.
Good news is there are now 34 MSAs with as many or more jobs today than the month prior to the pandemic. Bad news is that as of July, there were 35 – hence the tagline One Step Forward Two Steps Back regarding growth. Some MSAs continue to gain, others stumble and a few just sit there with no change. The first two tables show the 40 MSAs with the best and worst recovery of jobs comparing August 2021 to February 2020 (prior to the pandemic). Top states with the most metros with at least as many jobs as before the pandemic include:
These five states account for 20 of the 34 MSAs at least back to pre-COVID employment levels – or 58.8 percent of the group
The 40 MSAs with the widest gap between pre-pandemic employment and August 2021 are detailed in the next table. Of these, one half are in four states:
Not all MSAs lost an equal percentage of jobs at the onset of the pandemic. The two tables show the 40 MSAs each with the greatest and least percentage of jobs lost from prior to the pandemic -- February 2020) to the respective trough for each metro.
The last two tables detail the 40 MSAs each with the best and worst one-month job gains from July to August 2021.
To view the array of employment-related data available from the BLS click https://www.bls.gov/data/#employment
This attached PDF includes these metrics in addition to 12-month job performance numbers and total employment as of August 2021 for all 380 MSAs, sorted by state.
No two metros look alike as their economic DNA varies – just like people. Still jobs are everything to an economy.