The Wall Street Journal ranked Denver’s metro area as one of the hottest job markets in the United States. Based on job growth, wage growth and other factors from the previous year, Denver ranked third out of over 400 cities that were analyzed.
This was an improvement from when the metro area ranked ninth in 2019. All metro areas analyzed had populations of over one million.
Denver job market picking up steam
In the metrics used, Denver ranked eighth in unemployment with the rate at 3%. The labor force participation was 70%, making Denver first in this category.
Among the growth metrics, the metro area was 26th in job growth, 14th in labor force growth, and fourth in wage growth. Only Austin, Texas and Nashville, Tennessee had better overall job market metrics, ranking first and second respectively.
Colorado job market on the rise
Colorado has seen growth in the job market outside of the Denver metro area as well. Analyzing cities that were under 1 million, the Wall Street Journal ranked Boulder, Colorado as the top job market.
In addition, Greeley and Fort Collins, Colorado made the top 10 at sixth and seventh respectively. The rising job market has influenced changing demographics in the state as well. According to the Brookings Institute, Colorado Springs had the highest growth rate of millennials.
In El Paso County, where the city of Colorado Springs is located, there was a gain of 7,400 jobs between September 2018 and September 2019. Tatiana Bailey, the director of the University of Colorado Springs Economic Forum, notes that it was 2,000 jobs more than the number needed to match population growth. As a result, the unemployment rate has gone down to 2.8%.
The biggest employer in the area is the military, but other industries have seen double-digit growth in the last few years. These industries include health care, tech, and construction. Tourism has also risen, having employed more people than retail. Average wages in El Paso County remain below national averages but are steadily rising.
Job growth is struggling nationally
While numbers are growing in Colorado, overall U.S. job growth has still struggled. In September of 2019, the unemployment rate went from 3.7% to 3.5%, and there was an increase of 136,000 jobs.
Despite those improvements, a majority of large metro areas saw little changes to the job market, and in some cases shrank. The Detroit metro area had a -0.3% employment growth and the Minneapolis metro area had a 0% employment growth.
The North and Midwest have consistently had lower employment gains in recent years. The regions of the country that continue to have the most employment growth are the west and the south. Growth in the Seattle and Orlando metro area was 3.1% and 4% respectively.
Despite the trend, even within regions in the West and the South, there are still some areas that vary in job market success. In California, in particular, while the San Francisco metro had a 2.7% unemployment rate, the El Centro metro area had a 22% unemployment rate.
Other metro areas of California, such as Merced (7.2%) and Bakersfield (7.4%) also continue to have a high unemployment rate. A survey conducted asked if tattoos and piercings hurt an applicant’s chances of being hired during job interviews. Only 24% of respondents felt that tattoos and piercings didn’t hurt an applicant’s chances of being hired.
With the economy expanding nationally, some suggest that it’s the best time to raise taxes and the minimum wage. The increases are advocated in order to support specific political goals. With different job market numbers across the country, others question whether the time is appropriate. The U.S. Small Business Administration notes that 50% of small businesses fail within five years. The primary reason cited for this failure is insufficient capital and high debt.
Some also believe higher taxes could affect a business’s ability to invest in resources for growth. One example of a resource businesses invest in is SEO optimization. Research has shown that 92% of searchers pick businesses on the first page of local search results. While it’s believed that higher taxes and wages would not harm areas with growing economies like San Francisco, there’s a concern for struggling areas like Detroit.
Questions are asked about whether a higher minimum wage would negatively impact the employment of lower-skill workers. As Americans enter an election season, there will be continued debate on whether a national economic policy can work for all areas of the country.