Best Small, Mid-Size Cities for Jobs This Year Marks Shift

May 16, 2018
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At the start of this decade, the 53 major U.S. metros were drawing in more people than smaller metros. Now, smaller towns are now attracting more people, and have strong job creation. 

Provo, Utah was named the best midsize city for jobs this year in a study by director of the Center for Opportunity Urbanism Joel Kotkin and Michael Shires. Provo's population increased more than two and a half percent last year, with job growth up 4.3 percent overall, and up in two key, high-wage sectors: 33 percent in professional and business services, and 37.6 percent in information, per Forbes. Writes Kotkin, "There’s a large contingent placing highly on our list of small cities in attractive areas that are relatively inexpensive. Typifying this trend is Greeley, Colo." 

In this year’s edition of our Best Cities For Jobs survey, we found that six of the 10 metropolitan areas with the fastest job growth are either mid-sized (150,000 to 450,000 total nonfarm jobs) or smaller (less than 150,000 nonfarm jobs). Smaller metro areas dominated job growth in a number of sectors, including manufacturing (all the top 20), information (all of the top 10) jobs and, less surprisingly, natural resources, construction and mining. Census Bureau metropolitan area population estimates for 2017 show a significant increase in domestic migration away from the 53 major metropolitan areas with populations over a million and toward the 54 middle-sized metro areas.

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