The Leading Mid-Atlantic and New England Metros for Economic and Workforce Growth
Area Development ranks the Top MSAs in New England and the Mid-Atlantic states for economic and workforce growth based on the overall results from our Leading Locations for 2012 study.
Steve Stackhouse-Kaelble (July 2012)
Top 7 Mid-Atlantic Cities
- Shining brightly on a wide range of measures, the Pittsburgh area made it through the recession remarkably well, with employment growth among the best in the nation across the last three years as well as a five-year span. It's an incredible turnaround from the economic woes of about three decades ago, and what was once an economy that relied heavily on steel has been diversified with a focus on innovation, including in the energy sector. Just one example is the decision in March 2012 by Shell Oil to build a multibillion-dollar ethane refinery near Pittsburgh, promising some 10,000 industry jobs and about that many construction jobs. Meanwhile, the area is also home to Westinghouse, where thousands of jobs are linked to commercial nuclear energy.
Some of the biggest employers in the Pittsburgh area are in health care, education and government, and nearly 18,000 jobs are supported by financial giants PNC and Bank of New York Mellon. And steel certainly hasn't gone away, as United States Steel Corp. remains a major local employer. The region's successes have attracted the attention of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which in July 2012 hailed Pittsburgh's job growth as exceeding the national average. As for quality of life, Farmers Insurance Group in late 2011 ranked Pittsburgh the safest big city, and The Washington Post in early 2012 hailed it as the new "In" city.
- State College
With a 2nd-place rank among the Top 20 Mid-Atlantic Cities, State College placed 7th among small cities in Economic Strength Factors, 12th in Recession-Busting Factors and 21st in Prime Workforce Growth. The city made it through the recession with positive employment numbers.
Given the city's name, it almost goes without saying that the biggest employer in town is Pennsylvania State University, with nearly 15,000 on the payroll. The industrial base is diverse, including Raytheon, Josten's printing, Arris Group in telecommunications, Minitab in software and CCDA in bottled water.
- As the capital of New Jersey, Trenton counts government as the top employer, with city and county governments adding to the healthy tally of state workers. Health care providers are major employers as well, along with the education and professional business services sectors. Though the city once was a major center of manufacturing, today manufacturing employment totals less than 4 percent of total nonfarm employment, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (compare that to government, which employs nearly three of every 10 workers).
The employment outlook is strong in the Trenton-Ewing area, among the most vibrant of the nation's midsize communities. Employment has grown steadily even through the recent recession, with gains reported in the past year, three years and five years.
The historic port city of Baltimore continues to move in the right direction in putting people to work and keeping ahead of the national curve in terms of unemployment. One could say it's a "healthy" economy, thanks to a strong concentration of big, highly respected names in health care: Johns Hopkins Hospital, University of Maryland Health System, MedStar Health and other institutions that collectively employ about 48,000 people. It's the headquarters of Constellation Energy, which has diverse operations across North America, and also the headquarters of the investment firm T. Rowe Price. More than 20,000 people have jobs at IT and defense contractors such as Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin, and maritime commerce also has a strong impact on the local economy.
Among recent headlines, Knorr Brake Corp. is doubling the size of its manufacturing facility about 30 miles outside Baltimore, creating about 60 jobs. And, as an ideal location for serving the East Coast, the area recently landed a distribution center for Restoration Hardware, which will bring about 150 jobs to Cecil County about 40 miles from Baltimore.
- Buffalo-Niagara Falls
- Ranking 7th among Area Development's Top 20 Mid-Atlantic Cities, the Buffalo-
Niagara Falls MSA mixes strong business
growth with enviable quality-of-life factors.
It placed 12th among the Top 25 Big Cities in "Economic Strength" indicators and 9th
among that grouping for its "Recession-
Busting" factors. The area recorded 5,400
new jobs in the last three years, more than
all but 38 of the other 365 MSAs studied
during a stretch when many places saw
their employment rosters shrink.
Prized for a low cost of doing business,
Buffalo also placed 2nd on Forbes' 2011
ranking of most affordable American cities.
It has been spotlighted as one of the country's
cleanest cities, one of the best places for
commuters, a top arts destination, and a
high-ranking place for working mothers.
Beyond the thousands who work at area
healthcare providers and financial institutions,
there's a strong manufacturing sector
that includes Moog Inc., maker of precisioncontrol
components and defense systems,
and the General Motors' Tonawanda Engine
Plant, which is recalling workers, reopening
lines, and creating a new on-site training
center. Also, in 2011, Computer Task Group
announced plans to create 100 jobs in
Buffalo. In all, Buffalo Niagara Enterprise
has welcomed $3.1 billion in investments
and more than 37,000 new jobs since 2000.
Top 7 New England Cities
- With 24,000 jobs added across just a one-year span, the Boston area is among the nation's leaders in creating opportunity. Fueling its growth is the region's well-known brain power, with R&D propelling technology and life sciences businesses. For example, a Jones Lang LaSalle study identified the area among the nation's top established life sciences clusters, and the number of people working there in biotech R&D is seven times the national average.
No wonder the Boston area found itself leading the Innovation Cities ranking of the top 100 cities in the global innovation economy, one of only three American addresses in the top 10. And no wonder more federal health research funding lands in the Boston area than anywhere else. Meanwhile, the area's prime high-tech address is Route 128, where thousands of tech jobs have placed Boston as high as fourth among U.S. metro areas in tech employment. These R&D-heavy industries are supported by the area's strong educational sector, which is itself a significant part of the economy. The financial services sector also is a driving force here, particularly insurance and investment companies. Publishing is a major economic factor, along with tourism and businesses that rely on Boston's long history as a seaport.
- Burlington-South Burlington
- Vermont is well-known for its beauty and natural resources, but has used its smarts to grow the economy, drive down its unemployment rate and weather the economic slowdown. Its largest city, Burlington, more than a decade ago put forth a concerted effort to grow the knowledge economy, and today its employers are (among other things) providing software to the healthcare industry as well as automotive Internet marketing solutions. Burlington's economic activity also reflects an interest in the environment; there have been efforts to grow and attract various types of green businesses, and it's already home to Seventh Generation, a maker of natural household cleaners. And local character rings through in the success of such employers as Ben & Jerry's, Burton's Snowboards, Lake Champlain Chocolates and the Vermont Teddy Bear Company in nearby Shelburne.
Outsiders are noticing Burlington's charm and promise. Kiplinger, for example, named it among the "10 Best Cities for the Next Decade," spotlighting its strong education, innovative employers, energy sustainability and dedication to the local food movement. Forbes, meanwhile, named it one of America's "prettiest" towns.
- Barnstable Town
- Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford
- New Haven-Milford
LEADING LOCATIONS FOR 2012 RESOURCES