2017 may stand out for many events and developments, and among them is the exceptional year turned in by the labor market. For one, U.S. unemployment dropped to 4.1% in October, the lowest since December 2000.
Barring a massive exodus of workers from the labor force, falling unemployment almost always reflects increased hiring, which in turn bodes well for the economy. But while national conditions are favorable, trends vary substantially across the country, and not all local economies have been doing as well.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed monthly metro area employment figures in 2017 from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. From January through October, employment — the number of Americans currently employed — rose by 1.2%. Employment rose faster over that period in 187 of the nation’s 388 metro areas. It declined in 78 metro areas.
Most of the cities adding the most jobs in 2017 reported uninterrupted employment increases over the course of the year, but this was not always the case. Both Yuma, Arizona and Corvallis, Oregon reported among the largest employment increases this year, yet had some fairly dramatic employment fluctuations. In Yuma, for example, seasonally adjusted employment levels dropped for four consecutive months in the summer before rising again in September and October.
Similarly, while the trend in most cities losing the most jobs was one of steady decline, in several job changes were somewhat erratic. Employment in the St. Joseph metro area, on the border of Montana and Kansas, for example, surged in July before dropping in October.
6. Athens-Clarke County, Ga.
Employment change: 4,632 (+5.0%)
Jan. 2017 employment: 92,496
Oct. 2017 employment: 97,128
Unemployment, Oct. 2017: 4.1%
Strongest sector: Government (+8.1% employment chg.)