Where the Jobs Really Are

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Most statistics you see on the job market are pretty much useless to the job seeker. Here’s a headline from Friday: Employers Add 262,000 Jobs in Feb., Most in 4 Months; Overall Unemployment Rate Climbs. Huh? Employment and unemployment are both growing at the same time? While there’s a simple statistical explanation for this apparent anomoly – more job seekers were re-entering the job market – how does any of this help people in their job search? Not much in our view.

A key problem is that aggregate statistics don’t tell you anything about regional variation. While many regional newspapers have been trumpeting the quarter-million uptick in jobs in February, others like the Buffalo News complain that job search just got tougher.

Indeed has a simple index to explain this variation: job postings per capita. Take a look at our JobTrends map and ranking of job postings per capita for the 50 most populous metropolitan areas in the United States. Buffalo, with 6.3 job postings per 1000 people, is ranked number 38. If Buffalo is feeling pain, then it seems likely that the 12 other cities with an even lower number of job postings per capita are also struggling. At the other end of the spectrum, Boston is ranked the #1 job creator with 24 job postings per 1000 people. With four times as many open positions per capita as Buffalo, on average it’s a lot easier to find a job in Boston.