Smaller Metro Areas Competing with Big Cities in Job Growth

April 18, 2019
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Author: Tyran Saffold Jr

People aren’t flocking to big cities as they have in the past. When it comes to choosing a place to settle down or start a business, the latest data trends indicate that smaller metropolitan areas are seeing big gains. Migration data from the U.S. Census shows that from 2016 through 2017, large urban areas lost populations to smaller and non-metropolitan areas for the first time since 2008.

Small and Large Metros Compete

Since 2014, the growth rate of large metro areas has decreased by 0.2 percent per year while smaller metro areas saw increasing percentages of at least 0.5 per year, for the same period. One state that has experienced a significant upward shift in population growth in smaller metros is Florida.

The Orlando, Florida metro area grew 2.3 percent to 2.57 million people in 2018. That is the fifth-largest increase among U.S. cities for the year. In the same light, Florida had three of the top ten counties for year-over-year percentage growth: Walton grew by 4.5 percent, Ocala grew by 4.3 percent and St. Johns county grew by 4.2 percent, all ranging from small to mid-sized metros.

Small and mid-sized cities are ripe for new businesses to plant, grow and flourish in their rising economies and the proof is in job creation.

Small Cities Creating Big Jobs

Economic development groups situated in small and mid-sized cities have sought to develop vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystems that would allow new companies in small metros to compete with large cities for talent. In a Best Cities for Jobs survey by Forbes, it was found that 60 percent of the 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). These two categories also account for 18 out of the top 30. Healthy job addition is a sign of a growing economy and right now, small metros are increasing exponentially.

The Main Attractions

Quality of life and cost of living play major roles when it comes to relocation as a business or an individual. Currently, smaller metros are doing the most to offer the best of both worlds. Although they may not offer the same benefits as larger metros such as vibrant nightlife, multiple business opportunities and in-state tuition costs for larger universities, they still come with a set of conveniences that could continue to tilt odds in their favor.

• Reduced commute times
• Less crime (in some instances)
• Fewer crowds
• Chance to be a staple business in the community
• Untapped markets
• Bigger incentives/perks
• Higher talent retention rates
• Cost of living

Cities like New York and Chicago will continue to remain on top in terms of sheer size and population, but places like Orlando are primed to draw people within their city limits and become prime destinations for businesses and individuals.