Unemployment and job growth continue to capture attention as the U.S. economy rebounds from the Great Recession. This week, the final, revised numbers on state and city job growth for the year 2013 as a whole are out. Research Professor Lee McPheters of the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University provides rankings and analysis of the winners and losers, based on the latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Top 10+ cities and surrounding metro areas (1 million or more workers) for non-agricultural job growth, comparing 2013 to 2012:

Riverside, Calif. – up 4 percent
San Francisco – up 3.9 percent
Denver – up 3.6 percent
Houston – up 3.5 percent
Orlando, Fla. – up 3.2 percent
Seattle – up 2.8 percent
Phoenix – up 2.7 percent
Dallas – up 2.6 percent (four-way tie)
Los Angeles – up 2.6 percent
Miami – up 2.6 percent
San Diego – up 2.6 percent

Top 10 states for non-agricultural job growth, comparing 2013 to 2012:

North Dakota – up 3.6 percent
Utah – up 3.2 percent
California – up 3 percent
Colorado – up 2.9 percent (tie)
Texas – up 2.9 percent
6. Nevada – up 2.7 percent
7. Idaho – up 2.6 percent
8. Florida – up 2.5 percent
9. Washington – up 2.2 percent
10. Arizona – up 2.1 percent


Overall, the job-growth rate for the United States in 2013 was an increase of 1.7 percent, the same pace we saw in 2012. The number of jobs added nationwide last year was 2.26 million.

On the state list, North Dakota continues to dominate, having ranked No. 1 for multiple years in a row, largely thanks to its oil and gas production. However, a total of 12 states showed job growth of at least 2 percent last year.

“Several newcomers made the Top 10 job-growth states list this time,” says McPheters, director of the JPMorgan Chase Economic Outlook Center at the W. P. Carey School of Business. “Nevada, Idaho, Florida and Washington all hadn’t made the Top 10 in 2012. Nevada, in particular, is finally demonstrating a good rebound, cracking the Top 10 for the first time since the recession and taking the biggest leap up from No. 19 to No. 6. It led all states in the rate of new construction-job growth, with a gain of nearly 10 percent.”

The bottom 10 states for 2013 are South Dakota, Virginia, Maine, New Mexico, Vermont, Wyoming, Alaska, Pennsylvania, Arkansas and West Virginia. The only state that actually lost jobs was West Virginia at No. 50. Mining employment there fell by 5 percent, and they also had losses in construction and manufacturing.

McPheters notes very high interest in state economic performance right now because 31 governors are up for reelection, including those in Top-10 states California, Nevada, Idaho and Florida. Incumbents are also eligible for reelection in seven of the bottom 10 states: South Dakota, Maine, New Mexico, Vermont, Wyoming, Alaska and Pennsylvania.

On the Top 10 cities list, certain states have multiple winners.

“California is well-represented among the fastest-growing major metro labor markets with four cities, including Riverside and San Francisco in the top two spots,” explains McPheters. “Florida and Texas each have two large metro areas in the Top 10.”

Five big metro areas achieved job growth of at least 3 percent: Riverside, Calif.; San Francisco; Denver; Houston and Orlando, Fla. McPheters says the Riverside area was one of the most dynamic in 2013, leading all metro areas in the job-growth rate for construction, wholesale trade, warehousing and health care.

McPheters adds the biggest surprise may be what drove 2013 growth in the No. 7 Phoenix area, which was hit very hard by the recession. Phoenix led all large metro areas in information-sector and finance job-growth rates. In fact, Phoenix created the same number of information jobs in 2013 as the San Francisco area (2,000). Phoenix was also first nationwide in both the growth-rate percentage (5.6 percent) and absolute number of finance jobs added (8,400).

“Metro Phoenix economic-development efforts seem to be paying off, since both of these industries pay nationally competitive salaries and attract college-educated workers,” says McPheters. “This growth is happening in Phoenix more rapidly than anywhere else.”

The bottom cities for job growth in 2013 were Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Cleveland, which all added less than 1 percent. Pittsburgh took last place.

The full 50-state ranking and other job-growth data from McPheters can be found at the W. P. Carey School of Business “Job Growth USA website: www.wpcarey.asu.edu/jobgrowth. IMPORTANT: For the annual numbers, select “Total Nonfarm,” “12-Month Moving Avg.,” “December” and “2013.”