Houston Leads Largest Metro Areas on Job Creation Index

by Jeffrey M. Jones

Riverside, Calif., had lowest score among 50 largest metro areas

PRINCETON, NJ -- Houston's +33 Job Creation Index score topped the 50 largest U.S. metropolitan areas in 2012. That score is based on 45% of Houston-area workers saying their employer was hiring workers and expanding the size of its workforce, compared with 12% saying their employer was letting workers go and reducing the size of its workforce. Columbus, Ohio; Orlando, Fla.; Charlotte, N.C.; and Salt Lake City, Utah, joined Houston in the top five. Meanwhile, Riverside, Calif.; San Diego; New York; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Buffalo, N.Y., had the five lowest Job Creation Index scores, although all report net positive scores.

Top 5 Large MSAs, Gallup Job Creation Index, 2012Bottom 5 Large MSAs, Gallup Job Creation Index, 2012

The results are based on Gallup Daily tracking interviews conducted throughout 2012 in the 50 most populous Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). Gallup interviewed between 663 and 8,837 respondents per MSA. Each MSA sample is weighted to match the demographic characteristics of that area.

Nationwide, 35% of workers in 2012 reported their employers were hiring, compared with 17% letting workers go, for a +18 index score.

Gallup also analyzed hiring activity by metro area using 2011 data and found Oklahoma City, at +25, with the highest Job Creation Index score. Oklahoma City's index score is unchanged, but because index scores improved nationwide (from +14 in 2011 to +18 in 2012), as well as in most metro areas, that +25 score is good for only ninth place in the update. The full 2012 data for all MSAs can be found on page 2.

Orlando is the only metro area to rank in the top five for 2011 and 2012. Riverside, Buffalo, and New York ranked in the bottom five both years, even though all saw significant improvement in their 2012 job creation scores compared with 2011.

Houston ranked in the top 10 at +20 in the 2011 analysis, based on 38% of area workers reporting an increase in workforce size at their place of business and 18% a reduction. The 38% hiring figure for Houston tied for the best among large metro areas last year, but the city's 2011 net score was lower due to the relatively high "letting go" percentage.

Houston's hiring percentage increased in 2012 to 45%, and again ranks as the best in the nation, while Buffalo's 29% is the lowest. Riverside ranks last overall because it was among the lowest metro areas for hiring and tied for the highest in letting workers go.

Top and Bottom Metropolitan Areas for Hiring and Letting Workers Go, 2012


Among the nation's 50 largest metropolitan areas, the Houston area rates as the best place for jobs, according to local workers' reports of hiring and firing activity at their places of employment. Riverside, Calif., ranks as the most challenging job environment among major metros, although, on balance, workers in that area still are more likely to report workforces are expanding rather than contracting.

A positive sign for the U.S. economy is that most large metropolitan areas showed improvement in their hiring situations last year compared with 2011. And some of those that did not, like Oklahoma City and Pittsburgh, were among the strongest areas in 2011.

Americans may not feel the United States' economic woes are over until the unemployment situation improves substantially, and a key to that is for hiring activity to continue to improve in the biggest U.S. cities and their surrounding suburbs. reports results from these indexes in daily, weekly, and monthly averages and in stories. Complete trend data are always available to view and export in the following charts:

Daily: Employment, Economic Confidence, Job Creation, Consumer Spending
Weekly: Employment, Economic Confidence, Job Creation, Consumer Spending

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Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2012, with random samples of adults, aged 18 and older, living in the 50 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas by population.

Margins of error for individual MSAs are no greater than ±5 percentage points, and are ±3 percentage points in most MSAs.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cellphone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cellphone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, cellphone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2011 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit

Gallup Job Creation Index in 50 Largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas, 2012

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