Attitude Check

Which cities have the most jobs?

Frank Newport Apr 5, 2012

Sarah Gardner: It’s one thing to create jobs, it’s another to know where to find them. And it varies from region to region — some states have a lot of work, others not so much.

So we turn to the people now to tell us where the jobs are. Frank Newport is the editor-in-chief of Gallup. He’s here every week for a little Attitude Check, our weekly segment where we find out what Americans think about the issues of the day.

Frank, it’s good to talk to you.

Frank Newport: It’s a pleasure to talk to you, Sarah.

Gardner: You have been looking at this question of jobs and geography. If I needed a job right now, which city should I be looking at?

Newport: Oklahoma City!

Gardner: Why Oklahoma?

Newport: Because workers tell us that their employers are hiring the most and firing the least. You net those two out and Oklahoma City’s at the very top of the list; in fact, its unemployment rate more recently is like 5.9 percent, so it’s clearly the place to be. You’ll have to pack your bags and move to Oklahoma.

Gardner: I am guessing though, Frank, that I would have to be skilled working on an oil rig or something if I were to get a job in Oklahoma City, am I right?

Newport: That may be right. Clearly, Oklahoma’s part of that area of the country which has been seeing a boom in energy, but you know, we don’t discriminate. We asked all workers — from those who are fast-food workers to all the way up to CEOs of companies: Is the place that you’re working hiring and firing? It just looks like Oklahoma City has a lot going on in terms of jobs at the moment.

Gardner: So other than Oklahoma City, is that No. 1 — and do you have a No. 2?

Newport: Indeed we do; we have a top 10. It’s not all in the oil patch. Houston and San Antonio, a couple of Texas cities, are in the top 10. Pittsburgh, to be specific, is No. 2; followed by Richmond, Va.; and then Nashville in Tennessee; and then Orlando. So we’ve got quite a diversity there.

Gardner: What about the worst job markets?

Newport: Well, I’d hate to say it, but where you would not want to be is Providence, R.I. I mean, it’s a wonderful city, don’t get me wrong; Rhode Island’s a wonderful state. But boy, the people we interviewed in Providence simply were very dismal, workers, about telling us that their companies were firing rather than hiring. I mean, it has the dubious distinction of being last on our list.

Gardner: Now, again, that city was a center of industry at one time. What’s going on there now?

Newport: Well obviously not a lot when it comes to jobs. You’re absolutely right — Providence and Pittsburgh, at some point, they were both industrial cities of the past. And Pittsburgh’s, at least on our data, done a lot better job of getting things going than Providence, which is not doing well at all. But it’s not just those types of cities. Riverside, San Bernardino, Ontario, Calif., is actually second from the bottom. And then the whole Greater New York area, workers there are pretty negative. And then in Sacramento, it’s negative; and then Buffalo, N.Y., it also, rounds out of the bottom five in terms of our job creation index.

Gardner: What about these cities in California, like San Bernardino — do we know why, Frank, those are not doing well?

Newport: What we do know is that statewide, California has a problem. Its unemployment rate is high — the only city it looks like, in California big cities, that’s been able to escape its problems is up there in the San Jose area, and of course that’s being fueled right now with the big boom in startups and kind of electronics software, Silicon Valley, whatever you want to call it.

Gardner: Frank Newport is editor-in-chief of Gallup. The segment we do with them every week is called Attitude Check. Frank, we’ll talk to you next week.

Newport: My pleasure.

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