The U.S. government seeks full employment for our nation’s workers in an effort to maintain a stable economy. Many economists believe a labor market achieves full employment when the unemployment rate is 5% or less.

This may be good for the economy, but full employment makes it increasingly difficult for employers trying to staff their facilities around the country as well as economic development organizations trying to attract them. 

Companies should carefully evaluate unemployment conditions during the site selection process for employee intensive operations such as call centers, distribution centers, headquarters, manufacturing plants and shared service centers. To help identify the metro areas at full employment, Site Selection Group researched unemployment conditions across the U.S.

Site Selection Group identified 142 metro areas at or below 5% unemployment — metros that potentially have reached full employment.

The impact of full employment on companies
Despite the macroeconomic benefits of full employment, companies should be concerned about the potential risks. Site Selection Group identified the following four primary risks of full employment on employers:

  • Wage inflation — Wages will increase at higher than normal rates as employers compete for skilled labor. 
  • Skills shortage — The demand for skilled workers will typically exceed labor supply causing employers to struggle to find qualified workers.
  • Employee attrition — As labor demand rises, employees will quickly change jobs for hiring bonuses and wage increases.
  • Decreased productivity and performance levels — Due to the constant employee churn, inability of employers to fill open positions, and a less-qualified applicant pool, productivity and performance levels will suffer.

How to mitigate the risk of full employment during the site selection process
As companies search the country for the best location for their new call centers, distribution centers, headquarters, manufacturing plants and shared service centers, it is critical to carefully evaluate unemployment conditions. The risks of future labor problems rise when entering a labor market at full employment. To mitigate the risks of making a bad location decision, Site Selection Group recommends the following techniques for assessing labor conditions:

  • Underemployment — Quantify the number of workers with targeted skill sets at various wage thresholds. As labor markets tighten, employers are forced to rely on hiring from the ranks of the underemployed.  
  • Historic unemployment — Research the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the last decade to identify the highs and lows in the past. This data will potentially indicate how tight the labor market might become in the future.
  • Job postings — Research job postings in the targeted positions to identify any unusual high numbers of job postings.
  • Industry concentration — Identify any dominance of high-paying industries such as the energy sector, which can often significantly impact other industries.
  • Employer interviews — Testimonials of employers currently operating in the market can prove to be an invaluable way of learning about the challenges of hiring and retaining workers.

142 metro areas at full employment
Site Selection Group identified 142 metro areas as potentially reaching full employment. They are shown in the below interactive map and table. Site Selection Group ranked the metro areas based on their unemployment rate as of June.

Ranking of Metro Areas with
Unemployment Rate of 5% or Less

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
Rank Metropolitan Statistical Area Unemployment Rate
1 Lincoln, NE 2.60%
2 Fargo, ND-MN 2.80%
3 Bismarck, ND 2.90%
3 Burlington-South Burlington, VT 2.90%
3 Iowa City, IA 2.90%
3 Sioux Falls, SD 2.90%
7 Ames, IA 3.10%
7 Grand Island, NE 3.10%
9 Amarillo, TX 3.20%
9 Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA 3.20%
9 Portsmouth, NH-ME 3.20%
12 Austin-Round Rock, TX 3.30%
12 Billings, MT 3.30%
12 Dover-Durham, NH-ME 3.30%
12 Logan, UT-ID 3.30%
12 Mankato-North Mankato, MN 3.30%
17 Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA 3.40%
17 Idaho Falls, ID 3.40%
17 Manchester, NH 3.40%
17 Midland, TX 3.40%
17 Rapid City, SD 3.40%
22 Rochester, MN 3.50%
23 Boise City, ID 3.60%
23 Dubuque, IA 3.60%
23 Grand Forks, ND-MN 3.60%
23 Madison, WI 3.60%
23 Provo-Orem, UT 3.60%
23 Salt Lake City, UT 3.60%
29 Cedar Rapids, IA 3.70%
29 Cheyenne, WY 3.70%
29 Columbus, IN 3.70%
29 Missoula, MT 3.70%
29 Portland-South Portland, ME 3.70%
29 Sioux City, IA-NE-SD 3.70%
35 Boulder, CO 3.80%
35 Fort Collins, CO 3.80%
35 Lubbock, TX 3.80%
35 Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI 3.80%
35 Ogden-Clearfield, UT 3.80%
35 San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX 3.80%
41 College Station-Bryan, TX 3.90%
41 Elkhart-Goshen, IN 3.90%
41 Great Falls, MT 3.90%
41 Lewiston, ID-WA 3.90%
41 Pocatello, ID 3.90%
46 Abilene, TX 4.00%
46 Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 4.00%
46 Sherman-Denison, TX 4.00%
46 St. Cloud, MN 4.00%
50 Appleton, WI 4.10%
50 Coeur d'Alene, ID 4.10%
50 Manhattan, KS 4.10%
50 Napa, CA 4.10%
50 San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA 4.10%
50 Sheboygan, WI 4.10%
50 Urban Honolulu, HI 4.10%
57 Columbus, OH 4.20%
57 Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR-MO 4.20%
57 Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI 4.20%
57 La Crosse-Onalaska, WI-MN 4.20%
57 Lexington-Fayette, KY 4.20%
57 San Angelo, TX 4.20%
57 San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA 4.20%
57 St. George, UT 4.20%
57 Victoria, TX 4.20%
66 Ann Arbor, MI 4.30%
66 Danbury, CT 4.30%
66 Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO 4.30%
66 Evansville, IN-KY 4.30%
66 Lawrence, KS 4.30%
66 Oklahoma City, OK 4.30%
66 Santa Rosa, CA 4.30%
66 Waco, TX 4.30%
66 Waterloo-Cedar Falls, IA 4.30%
66 Wausau, WI 4.30%
76 Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin, FL 4.40%
76 Eau Claire, WI 4.40%
76 Fond du Lac, WI 4.40%
76 Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, HI 4.40%
76 Lewiston-Auburn, ME 4.40%
76 Odessa, TX 4.40%
76 San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA 4.40%
76 State College, PA 4.40%
76 Wichita Falls, TX 4.40%
85 Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY 4.50%
85 Bangor, ME 4.50%
85 Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH 4.50%
85 Columbia, MO 4.50%
85 Fort Wayne, IN 4.50%
85 Green Bay, WI 4.50%
85 Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX 4.50%
85 Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN 4.50%
85 Lancaster, PA 4.50%
85 Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA 4.50%
85 Tyler, TX 4.50%
96 Bloomington, IL 4.60%
96 Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN 4.60%
96 Gettysburg, PA 4.60%
96 Glens Falls, NY 4.60%
96 Greeley, CO 4.60%
96 Ithaca, NY 4.60%
96 Springfield, IL 4.60%
96 Topeka, KS 4.60%
96 Winchester, VA-WV 4.60%
105 Casper, WY 4.70%
105 Charlottesville, VA 4.70%
105 Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA 4.70%
105 Killeen-Temple, TX 4.70%
105 Lafayette-West Lafayette, IN 4.70%
105 Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN 4.70%
105 Oshkosh-Neenah, WI 4.70%
105 Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA 4.70%
105 Wenatchee, WA 4.70%
114 Corvallis, OR 4.80%
114 Kingston, NY 4.80%
114 Lima, OH 4.80%
114 Monroe, MI 4.80%
114 Springfield, OH 4.80%
114 Tulsa, OK 4.80%
114 Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV 4.80%
121 Barnstable Town, MA 4.90%
121 Champaign-Urbana, IL 4.90%
121 Dayton, OH 4.90%
121 Kokomo, IN 4.90%
121 Lawton, OK 4.90%
121 Lebanon, PA 4.90%
121 Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR 4.90%
121 Longview, TX 4.90%
121 Staunton-Waynesboro, VA 4.90%
121 Trenton, NJ 4.90%
131 Akron, OH 5.00%
131 Asheville, NC 5.00%
131 Chambersburg-Waynesboro, PA 5.00%
131 Corpus Christi, TX 5.00%
131 Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL 5.00%
131 Gainesville, FL 5.00%
131 Jefferson City, MO 5.00%
131 Lansing-East Lansing, MI 5.00%
131 Laredo, TX 5.00%
131 North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL 5.00%
131 Roanoke, VA 5.00%
131 San Diego-Carlsbad, CA 5.00%


Source-Bureau-of-Labor

 

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