By Jacob Passy, Morningstar
A boom in certain industries means that some parts of the country are seeing remarkable job growth.
Attention job-seekers: Midland, Texas, is hiring.
The Western Texas city, which is home to 136,000 people, has experienced the largest percentage growth in jobs over the past year of any metropolitan area in the country, according to May data released last week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of people employed in Midland has jumped by more than 11% over the past year, well above the job growth rate nationwide (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-adds-healthy-213000-jobs-in-june-but-unemployment-rate-backs-up-to-4-2018-07-06).
The U.S. added 213,000 jobs in June, but the unemployment rate rose to 4% last month nationwide after dropping to an 18-year low of 3.8% in May, the Labor Department said Friday.
Nearby Odessa, Texas, wasn’t too far behind — the number of jobs there has risen 4.4% since May 2017. Both cities have a single industry to thank for their employment growth: Oil. The Midland-Odessa region is the heart of Texas’ petroleum industry, and the rising price of crude oil has certainly benefitted these cities though recent price declines could spell trouble.
College towns are also job magnets. Lafayette-West Lafayette, Ind., home of Purdue University, and College Station, Texas, home of Texas A&M University, ranked among the top cities nationwide for job growth over the past year.
Metropolitan area Jobs in May 2017 (thousands) Jobs in May 2018 (thousands) Year-over-year change Midland, Texas 92.4 102.8 11.3% Ocean City, N.J. 43.1 46.3 7.4% Lafayette-West Lafayette, Ind. 99.5 106.5 7.0% Elkhart-Goshen, Ind. 137.2 145.3 5.9% Walla Walla, Wash. 27.9 29.5 5.7% Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin, Fla. 114.6 119.7 4.5% Gainesville, Ga. 89.5 93.5 4.5% College Station-Bryan, Texas 116.6 121.9 4.5% Odessa, Texas 72.7 75.9 4.4% St. George, Utah 64.2 67 4.4% Yakima, Wash. 87.3 91.1 4.4%
Such a trend isn’t unique to the oil industry or West Texas though. Domestic travel has increased in recent years — and the expanded tourism revenue has translated into impressive job growth for many cities across the country.
In Indiana’s Elkhart-Goshen metropolitan area, the number of jobs has increased 5.9% over the past year. The city is host to the country’s two largest manufacturers of recreational vehicles — Thor Industries (THO) and Forest River (BRKA). The RV industry has seen shipments of new vehicles spike 12% over the past year, according to the RV Industry Association.
Tourism also enriched the fortunes for the job markets in other cities, including St. George, Utah, a suburb of Las Vegas, Ocean City, N.J., and Destin, Fla.