NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - A jobless recovery is like a wet March in Detroit - not much fun. But there may be a way to beat both. Move to Texas!
A new survey that highlights the increasing divide between the haves and have nots of U.S. metropolises has ranked Austin, the capital of Texas, and the entire southwest region, as the number one jobs market for young adults trying to escape the slowdown - and get a bit of sun while they're at it.
The survey by Portfolio.com shows that over the last five years Austin has added about 99,200 jobs, with an annual employment rate of 2.8 percent since 2004, the highest in the country. The city's unemployment rate is just 6.9 percent, well below national rate of 9.7 percent.
J.Jennings Moss, editor of Portfolio.com, says it is not only the weather that is attracting young people to Austin. He says the city's entrepreneurial spirit is a major factor and points to start ups like Valence Inc, a maker of batteries for hybrid vehicles.
"Austin has long had a special attraction for young adults," he said. "For a lot of reasons Austin has become a very attractive destination."
Washington DC, Raleigh and Boston followed Austin in the rankings and four other southern cities -- Houston, Oklahoma City, Dallas-Fort Worth and Tulsa -- also made it into the top 10.
The survey of 67 U.S. cities with populations above 750,000 looked for qualities that would appeal to workers in their 20s and early 30s. Twenty-eight percent of Austin's 1.6 million residents are between the ages of 18 and 34.
That is more than the average for the study group of 23.1 percent and even beats New York City, with just 22 percent of its residents in that demographic.
All this is not to say Austin wasn't hit by the recession. In 2009 the Austin metropolitan area lost almost 18,000 jobs, according to the Labor Department. But with a population that has grown at an annual rate of 3.4 percent for much of the last decade while other cities have seen their residents drain away, the city seems better placed than many.
Detroit, with its reliance on the ailing U.S. auto industry, was the worst performer in the survey. In the past five years the once proud industrial city has lost around 343,700 jobs, according to portfolio.com, shedding an average 3.6 percent of its work force every year since 2004.
And Detroit is not alone. Cleveland and Dayton, other Midwest industrial centers in what is now known as the rust belt, were the next worst performers, with rising unemployment, falling populations and high jobless rates among the young.
Reporting by Edward Krudy; Editing by Patricia Reaney