84 percent of the largest U.S. counties saw year-over-year jobs gains

September 26, 2013

Michelle Gloeckler, senior vice president of the home division at Wal-Mart, shows off a selection of merchandise in Rogers, Arkansas. (Reuters/Rick Wilking.)

The state of employment and wages in the nation’s counties is improving, but by varying degrees.

Most of the nation’s 334 largest counties — 282, to be exact — saw employment gains from March 2012 to March 2013, the latest available Labor Department data which was released Thursday. Fort Bend, Tex. saw the largest gain of 7 percent, driven largely by leisure and hospitality jobs. Nationally, jobs grew at a 1.6 percent pace. Employment shrank by 2.4 percent in Sangamon, Ill., more than in any other large county.

Wages rose, but by a slight 0.6 percent from the first quarter of 2012 to the same period this year. (Inflation, meanwhile, rose by 1.5 percent from March 2012 to March of this year.) The average weekly wage was $989. California’s San Mateo county saw the largest increase, 14.8 percent, led by huge wage gains in the information sector. Arkansas’s Benton county saw wages rise by 14.3 percent and Illinois’s McLean county saw wage gains of 11.8 percent — nearly twice as much as the next highest county. Williamson, Tex. posted wage declines of 13.4 percent, the biggest drop in the country.

Check out how your county fared in the maps below.

Employment change (March 2012 to March 2013, largest 300+ counties)

Note: Nineteen of the 335 counties could not be mapped. (Source: BLS)

Change to average weekly wages (First quarter 2012 to first quarter 2013, largest 300+ counties)

Note: Nineteen of the 335 counties could not be mapped. (Source: BLS)

Average weekly wages for all counties

(Source: BLS)

Niraj Chokshi reports for GovBeat, The Post's state and local policy blog.
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Niraj Chokshi · September 26, 2013