Austin, Elkhart Top Rankings of Best U.S. Job Markets

Annual labor-market ratings judge metro areas on five attributes

Austin, Texas, has landed among the top large cities in the Journal’s annual job-market rankings for three years running.Photo: Rick Kern/Getty Images
By Danny Dougherty

A Texas tech hub and a town that bills itself as the RV capital of the world are America’s hottest job markets, according to The Wall Street Journal’s annual rankings.

The Austin, Texas, metro area—which also features University of Texas, a state capitol and lots of live music—ranked as the best labor market in 2021, among regions with at least one million people. The Elkhart, Ind., area, where Keystone RV Co., Jayco Inc. and Newmar Corp., are located, ranked as the best job market among smaller regions.

The rankings are based on five attributes: job growth, unemployment rate, share of adults working or looking for work, change in the size of the labor force, and change in average weekly wages. Cities were scored by the highest average ranking among the five categories based on Moody’s Analytics analysis of Labor Department data.

Large cities rankings

Metropolitan statistical areaOverall rankUnemployment rate rankLabor force participation rankPayroll change rankChange in labor force size rankChange in average weekly wages rank
Austin-Round Rock, TX1171134
Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN284111410
Raleigh, NC39164416
Salt Lake City, UT41222424
Jacksonville, FL5101915119
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA672020921
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO738316618
Kansas City, MO-KS811519743
Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH9269121722
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL1013459223
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX113110141127
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA12281125283
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA122715291311
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ14362861214
Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN15412312039
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC161818231835
Birmingham-Hoover, AL17246172329
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL1833472785
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA19221744371
Memphis, TN-MS-AR20423821158
San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX21324381036
Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI22218184837
Oklahoma City, OK23324401652
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI2466435130
Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN251225263542
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA2655333959
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV27307375020
Columbus, OH271913324238
Rochester, NY29344271945
Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV30534032231
Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN301623243848
Providence-Warwick, RI-MA303926132150
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI331422502640
St. Louis, MO-IL341521454034
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA35353049442
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD353714304633
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL372541424112
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA385051222515
Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY394049102747
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI404829463617
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA415237413413
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI42235255246
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA42445038397
Tulsa, OK44536533055
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC452432475325
Cleveland-Elyria, OH462944523232
Richmond, VA472035545428
Pittsburgh, PA484539334926
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD494631284549
Tucson, AZ504155352941
Fresno, CA51544851436
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX524734363353
Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, CA534353343144
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT544927485554
New Orleans-Metairie, LA555154554751

Methodology: The Wall Street Journal’s ranking is based on five attributes: average unemployment rate in 2021; labor-force participation rate in 2021; the change in the average monthly employment and labor-force levels in 2021 from a year earlier; and the change in average weekly wages, not adjusted for inflation, in the first half of 2021 from the first half of 2020, reflecting the latest available wage data. Areas were scored by the highest average ranking among the five categories. Rankings were split between areas with under one million people and over one million people.

Source: Moody’s Analytics analysis of Labor Department data

Small cities rankings

Metropolitan statistical areaOverall rankUnemployment rate rankLabor force participation rankPayroll change rankChange in labor force size rankChange in average weekly wages rank
Elkhart-Goshen, IN1112241
Provo-Orem, UT221494446
Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR-MO33128182159
Reno, NV4147301736
Fond du Lac, WI432162126108
Wilmington, NC610310622307
Gainesville, GA713561014164
Fargo, ND-MN83534886105
Logan, UT-ID91253168170
Ogden-Clearfield, UT105421992141
Coeur d'Alene, ID116216612698
Springfield, MO123775697082
Columbus, IN13273458102119
Panama City, FL149313149565
Boise City, ID1528833811977
Walla Walla, WA1611688278431
Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, FL17662532425
La Crosse-Onalaska, WI-MN18262112876104
Idaho Falls, ID194471634259
Savannah, GA20816186205
Columbia, MO2117391788850
Pocatello, ID222089714244
Sheboygan, WI2321235753248
Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin, FL24581461141768
Sioux Falls, SD256112257218
Rapid City, SD2630779875132
Eau Claire, WI2741186539260
Daphne-Fairhope-Foley, AL282227065176
Winchester, VA-WV29494636139156
Charleston-North Charleston, SC30961096710749
Madison, WI3115519772143
Salem, OR32174103852052
Durham-Chapel Hill, NC3384797045164
Boulder, CO3416571775836
Jonesboro, AR35557212711086
North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL368831334715
Knoxville, TN3791182977125
Oshkosh-Neenah, WI3833329661249
Bend-Redmond, OR39202126842934
Appleton, WI40241319385161
Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL411021408110146
Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, NC42125225466618
Wausau, WI43183121473150
Valdosta, GA4476193774893
Port St. Lucie, FL4512826933854
Rochester, MN4642610725894
Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA47771171127225
Sherman-Denison, TX48161155755472
Greenville, NC49151108239233
Joplin, MO50531548095145
Jackson, TN511419514111244
Macon-Bibb County, GA521082191056042
Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort, SC5278319203780
Medford, OR542051741213112
St. George, UT5414210419296
Amarillo, TX56109489162235
Gettysburg, PA571465213109226
Kennewick-Richland, WA581906240137118
Lincoln, NE59310139207190
Lafayette-West Lafayette, IN60451202942314
Portland-South Portland, ME611226466181120
Huntsville, AL629995394300
Chattanooga, TN-GA63971631449656
Spartanburg, SC6313312555120123
Colorado Springs, CO65252654127172
Brunswick, GA66702813533140
Jefferson City, MO672354153103229
South Bend-Mishawaka, IN-MI6811910712315366
Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA691633180232116
Gainesville, FL697912111812247
Grand Island, NE7183816127497
Tyler, TX722061331525200
Olympia-Tumwater, WA731501413723814
Ames, IA73122030322520
Fort Wayne, IN756784120142168
Wenatchee, WA76160437226447
Champaign-Urbana, IL771397114618051
Bismarck, ND78572410999306
Punta Gorda, FL791273251112311
Warner Robins, GA80611928635228
Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA811701752821416
Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford, VA81722342619279
Sebastian-Vero Beach, FL83154322821533
Lewiston, ID-WA832516776122216
Winston-Salem, NC851371849989102
Tallahassee, FL851201162483295
Fort Collins, CO871841915065195
Watertown-Fort Drum, NY8822510032121136
Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL891482971104713
Green Bay, WI893829173106269
Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL91982216413222
Hattiesburg, MS9219315113136111
Lawrence, KS936574259113117
Auburn-Opelika, AL941922739147198
Decatur, AL9510145185161130
Missoula, MT95549218825740
Ocala, FL971673231061622
Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL981112909038106
Burlington, NC981441696259201
Prescott, AZ100181309105284
Salinas, CA1013062712410478
Janesville-Beloit, WI1021104511679290
Rome, GA1026424311977137
Hinesville, GA104687821163223
Mankato-North Mankato, MN105484191275135
Topeka, KS1065937260131169
Ocean City, NJ1073176611272
Napa, CA1082469414315429
Carson City, NV1091801484718275
Barnstable Town, MA110268111511282
Waco, TX1111861424449257
Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, SC-NC112210324259041
Yakima, WA1132581551194174
Staunton-Waynesboro, VA1146915663204207
Worcester, MA-CT11524455112126165
Abilene, TX1161561058355305
Dothan, AL1163928313215199
Glens Falls, NY1181961861483227
St. Joseph, MO-KS1194660276173153
York-Hanover, PA1202185861189184
Dubuque, IA121899169209237
Morgantown, WV1221068015750322
Homosassa Springs, FL1232313271002437
Athens-Clarke County, GA1244725823711173
St. Cloud, MN12510417204292110
Bellingham, WA1261991965026123
Cape Girardeau, MO-IL12660110175146238
Asheville, NC128101201138134159
Fort Smith, AR-OK1298528716311687
Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, SC13092208137129175
Dalton, GA1308331215112471
Sebring, FL1302413261042248
Morristown, TN13313427913413858
Manchester-Nashua, NH1343426129273283
Duluth, MN-WI13411211489252178
Clarksville, TN-KY13617120459105211
Billings, MT1374386222240163
Cleveland, TN13812618327814919
Corvallis, OR1399517725643185
Bloomsburg-Berwick, PA1402229342130280
Sioux City, IA-NE-SD1415622293248152
California-Lexington Park, MD14214050102188295
Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA1432349620018463
Lexington-Fayette, KY1448068234250147
Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL1451922654346234
Lubbock, TX1451627014981318
Yuma, AZ1473271685220043
Burlington-South Burlington, VT148757145322261
Grants Pass, OR1492553151422860
Lawton, OK15063191239143167
Mount Vernon-Anacortes, WA1512172027828226
Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY15216691189190177
Columbia, SC152105139246168155
Eugene, OR1542152482676721
Lancaster, PA15518753155231196
Salisbury, MD-DE1562432441164262
Canton-Massillon, OH15718513519426362
Redding, CA1572793171369710
New Bern, NC15713029119080148
Akron, OH16018312719826770
Santa Rosa, CA1602081522632193
Springfield, OH16019419494237126
Albany, OR16022122014040224
Sumter, SC16417228916816455
Urban Honolulu, HI165288128152108173
Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL165173102181262131
Harrisonburg, VA1677418987229273
Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA16821659115198268
Bloomington, IN1694428229015092
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ1702766956195264
Roanoke, VA17099172174293122
Stockton-Lodi, CA17231121111319630
Lima, OH17321411379215243
Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol, TN-VA1741363062032129
Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, MS1752492674556250
Cumberland, MD-WV17624723592157138
Tuscaloosa, AL1777520022427696
Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR178115138236203182
Ann Arbor, MI17913190249277128
Florence-Muscle Shoals, AL18050293206230100
Florence, SC181143180250174134
Grand Forks, ND-MN1827336271246256
Modesto, CA18330821616418717
Kalamazoo-Portage, MI184200150170272101
Cheyenne, WY18511349251205278
Jackson, MS18619814923382239
Flagstaff, AZ1872939860145307
Trenton, NJ18823912184224246
Rocky Mount, NC18927428818611445
Killeen-Temple, TX190250255156100149
Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC19187240217115253
Jacksonville, NC19115830516591193
Niles-Benton Harbor, MI19323520710328683
Fairbanks, AK19417944273133287
Lebanon, PA19523381195241171
Lewiston-Auburn, ME196176115238227166
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA197251132210197133
Kingston, NY197195162196213157
Baton Rouge, LA19922951227118301
Greensboro-High Point, NC200188230220175114
College Station-Bryan, TX200153119258156241
Springfield, MA20227513412693303
Evansville, IN-KY20271117308249186
Iowa City, IA2025140319302219
Racine, WI20513587280159271
Albuquerque, NM206290181158117187
Johnson City, TN20712929926617269
Ithaca, NY20712326229622232
Manhattan, KS20940123325269179
Carbondale-Marion, IL210189173208247121
El Paso, TX211277213176160113
Anniston-Oxford-Jacksonville, AL21294316172235124
Greeley, CO2132543525278325
McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX21432121895101210
Charlottesville, VA2158217129531889
Merced, CA216323223125128158
Springfield, IL217197104202266189
Hagerstown-Martinsburg, MD-WV21815297281216213
Grand Junction, CO21926714418798265
Montgomery, AL220114161269270154
Utica-Rome, NY22124223820120688
Lansing-East Lansing, MI222207130209287144
Bowling Green, KY223107233133221284
New Haven-Milford, CT2242998293317188
Bremerton-Silverdale, WA22514215830931953
Waterloo-Cedar Falls, IA2268685305285221
Longview, WA22623030013029428
Anchorage, AK22825341245136315
Pittsfield, MA229269188108171263
Columbus, GA-AL230117284284193129
Bangor, ME231168195162210274
Michigan City-La Porte, IN232182246147223212
Midland, MI23216920968251313
Lake Havasu City-Kingman, AZ23428132130152230
Albany, GA23516325631121174
Las Cruces, NM236296232240140112
Bay City, MI23626023119231324
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT23829216418232661
Goldsboro, NC239157273315158125
Kankakee, IL24026110128830575
Syracuse, NY24122020526425985
Dayton, OH242177157235283183
Williamsport, PA242285112167226245
Great Falls, MT24452197275297216
Monroe, MI24525716521830398
Wichita, KS24616463277220319
Chico, CA24728231123218638
Hammond, LA248295276148135199
Mobile, AL249155224243290142
Toledo, OH250219124225307181
Saginaw, MI25129127588288115
Yuba City, CA25231321728720239
Alexandria, LA252149245268144252
Wichita Falls, TX254211222226132270
Chambersburg-Waynesboro, PA255201122207268266
Decatur, IL2562982282572842
Pueblo, CO25730921427474203
Elmira, NY25824028026525635
Bloomington, IL259138143313309176
Hanford-Corcoran, CA26031920328924327
Scranton-Wilkes-Barre-Hazleton, PA261304147215279139
Brownsville-Harlingen, TX26231629822915591
Battle Creek, MI26327823720531457
Muncie, IN264100257255179308
Fayetteville, NC265270296253178103
Cedar Rapids, IA26513267301296304
Sierra Vista-Douglas, AZ267228304135125309
Madera, CA268314266261163109
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA26920422631728190
Visalia-Porterville, CA270326187286217107
Texarkana, TX-AR270223252231166251
Mansfield, OH270209259166280209
Danville, IL273256241179245208
Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, HI27432413773311285
Hot Springs, AR275175318159182297
Flint, MI27630127874300180
San Angelo, TX277191206270177294
Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX278320268117123312
Jackson, MI279245198160308231
Beckley, WV279213303199141286
Shreveport-Bossier City, LA281259247291185162
Monroe, LA282226179282170288
Pine Bluff, AR283248294244162204
Elizabethtown-Fort Knox, KY284145274279298160
Altoona, PA285263170247291191
Kokomo, IN2852652773063104
Charleston, WV287203260300208192
East Stroudsburg, PA28830522954271310
Midland, TX2892648321289291
Norwich-New London, CT290307153154328236
Lake Charles, LA291272136326320127
El Centro, CA29232830217132467
Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH293178307213199298
Vineland-Bridgeton, NJ293312160212244267
Dover, DE295273261183191289
Reading, PA296284118297306194
Atlantic City-Hammonton, NJ2973252543299320
The Villages, FL29822432831087255
Binghamton, NY299227286230233232
Corpus Christi, TX300303242221167277
Terre Haute, IN300121295314278202
Santa Fe, NM30028926432225481
Laredo, TX303283212262201254
Casper, WY30426273298255326
Longview, TX305280236228169302
Wheeling, WV-OH305232249219234281
Lynchburg, VA307124285285312214
Owensboro, KY308118239302295276
Bakersfield, CA309322176283242220
Lafayette, LA310237250294165317
Peoria, IL310236185242301299
Houma-Thibodaux, LA312238271292148321
Erie, PA313300199223265311
Parkersburg-Vienna, WV313212292318236240
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA315294215254218323
Victoria, TX316286251304228242
Rockford, IL317310159307321215
Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA318287190320253279
Weirton-Steubenville, WV-OH319266308241239293
Farmington, NM320315310312260151
Gadsden, AL32090320299315324
State College, PA322159272323304292
Muskegon, MI323302263216323258
Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA324271301272316206
Odessa, TX32531876327327327
Johnstown, PA326297314324325316

Methodology: The Wall Street Journal’s ranking is based on five attributes: average unemployment rate in 2021; labor-force participation rate in 2021; the change in the average monthly employment and labor-force levels in 2021 from a year earlier; and the change in average weekly wages, not adjusted for inflation, in the first half of 2021 from the first half of 2020, reflecting the latest available wage data. Areas were scored by the highest average ranking among the five categories. Rankings were split between areas with under one million people and over one million people.

Source: Moody’s Analytics analysis of Labor Department data

Write to Danny Dougherty at Danny.Dougherty@wsj.com