(Moneywatch) The condition of the economy depends a lot on where you live: In Yuma, Ariz, the unemployment rate tops 34 percent. But in Bismarck, N.D., it's a mere 2.5 percent. Now, a new interactive map created by CareerBuilder's EMSI division hopes to show people where in the country the economy is booming.
Although the national unemployment rate, as of the latest Labor Department report, is 7.4 percent, there are 53 major metropolitan areas where that rate is 5.5 percent or less, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That's an important number because it's within a range of what many economists consider to be full employment -- where most of the unemployment is short term and frequently by choice.
The trouble is, Americans, once famous for their mobility, have stopped moving. In 1985, more than 20 percent of the population moved to a different county (either in the same or a different state), according to the Census Bureau. In 2012 that number had dropped to 12 percent, just 0.4 percent higher than the record low set the year before.
"The overall mover rate for the nation has increased since a record low," said Alison Fields, chief of the Census Bureau's Journey-to-Work and Migration Statistics Branch, in a statement. "However, compared to previous years, mobility is still low for even our most mobile age group -- 18- to 29-year-olds."
It's also worth noting that a lot of the moving was related to retirement and not for employment. The most common state-to-state move in 2011 was from New York to Florida.
Of course, humans base decisions like this on far more than just economic considerations -- owning a home and connections to the community they live in, such as family and friends, are the biggest ones. Also, some people may simply not want to move to a particular location just for work. Four of the five metropolitan areas with the lowest employment rates are in either North or South Dakota, where the winters are long and the cultural attractions few.
The other thing is that even though an area has a low unemployment rate overall that doesn't mean it necessarily has a low unemployment rate in a particular field. The job growth in the Dakotas is based around energy production and resource extraction, so if you're expertise is in finance or insurance you might look elsewhere. Such as around Birmingham, Ala., which has seen a 35 percent increase in depository credit intermediation jobs in the past three years.
For example, while the healthcare sector is booming overall, the best place in the country to find a job in a private surgical or medical hospital could be Boise, Idaho, which currently has 12,444 jobs in that area, a 28 percent increase since 2010.
The hotspots for jobs are definitely not where you might expect them to be. The fastest growing area for jobs with Internet companies isn't the Silicon Valley area (although it did see an impressive 50.5 percent increase in these jobs over the past three years) but Raleigh, N.C., which has seen a 107 percent increase. Of course, it is important to note that Silicon Valley has a significant lead in the total number of jobs.
Here are the five metro areas that have added the most jobs per capita since 2010:
- Salt Lake City, Utah added over 62,000 jobs since 2010, up 9 percent (534 new jobs per 10,000 people)
- Grand Rapids-Wyoming, Mich. added over 39,000 jobs since 2010, up 10 percent (513 new jobs per 10,000 people)
- San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif. added over 91,000 jobs since 2010, up 10 percent (498 new jobs per 10,000 people)
- Austin-Round Rock- San Marcos, Texas added over 90,000 jobs since 2010, up 11 percent (488 new jobs per 10,000 people)
- Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas added over 281,000 jobs since 2010, up 10 percent (451 new jobs per 10,000 people)
As CareerBuilder CEO Matt Ferguson notes, there is no single industry driving all this, which is good news for the economic health of the nation.
"These are metros with a strong concentration of computer systems design, software publishing and data processing and hosting firms," Ferguson said in a statement. "These are metros benefitting from the resurgence in U.S. manufacturing, and the nation's need to find new energy sources and expand healthcare services."