2012 How We Pick the Best Cities For Job Growth

We seek to measure the robustness of a region’s growth both recently and over time. We look at all of the metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) for which the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports monthly employment data. They are derived from three-month rolling averages of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics “state and area” unadjusted employment data reported from November 2000 to January 2012.

This year’s rankings use four measures of growth to rank all 398 metro areas for which full data sets were available from the past 10 years. “Large” areas include those with a current nonfarm employment base of at least 450,000 jobs. “Midsize” areas range from 150,000 to 450,000 jobs. “Small” areas have as many as 150,000 jobs. This year’s rankings reflect the current size of each MSA’s employment. Only one MSA, Lafayette, La., changed size categories, moving from the “Small” to “Midsize” category, so this year’s rankings can be directly compared to the 2011 rankings. In the instances where the analysis refers to changes in ranking order within the size categories, Lafayette, La., is reported as if it had been included in the “Midsize” category last year.

The index is calculated from a normalized, weighted summary of: 1) recent growth trend: the current and prior year’s employment growth rates, with the current year emphasized (two points); 2) mid-term growth: the average annual 2006-2011 growth rate (two points); 3) long-term trend and momentum: the sum of the 2006-2011 and 2000-2005 employment growth rates multiplied by the ratio of the 2000-2005 growth rate over the 2006-2011 growth rate (two points); and 4) current year growth (one point).

The data reflect the North American Industry Classification System categories, including total nonfarm employment, manufacturing, financial services, business and professional services, educational and health services, information, retail and wholesale trade, transportation and utilities, leisure and hospitality, and government.