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South, Tourist Spots See Job Growth

Nashville, Tennessee, and Austin, Texas, topped the list of 2022’s hottest job markets, and other southern cities, including Florida’s Jacksonville and Orlando, also climbed the ranks, The Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports.

What’s going on: “Sunbelt cities benefited from a continued recovery in travel and a hiring boom at restaurants, hotels and music venues, consistent with the resurgent services sector driving the U.S. economy in recent months.”

  • “Many remained relatively affordable as high inflation gripped the nation. Meanwhile, some Western job markets that heated up after the pandemic took hold—including Salt Lake City, Phoenix and Denver—cooled last year.”
  • The assessment of about 380 metro areas in the U.S. was done by the Journal and Moody’s Analytics. 

Strong labor forces: Nashville, the top job market in the ranking, had the third-highest share of adults either working or looking for work, while Austin, in the number-two spot, had the strongest workforce participation rate for a large metro area.

  • To attract and retain workers, companies in third-place holder Jacksonville “are ramping up wages. The city’s weekly wages grew at the fourth-fastest rate of any large metro area last year. Its South Florida cousin, Miami, logged the nation’s largest wage gains.”

Tourists return: Also moving up in the rankings are traditional tourist spots, which took a hit during the pandemic.

  • Last year Las Vegas “added jobs at the fastest pace of any large metro in 2022. International travelers began returning … while older consumers shook off pandemic concerns.”
  • New Orleans and Orlando are also getting back on their feet, filling more hotel rooms and open jobs.

Losing workers: New York City was among the few large metro areas to lose labor force participation last year.

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