South will rise in this fall's employment market

Image: Raleigh, N.C.
Raleigh is part of North Carolina's Research Triangle, a conglomerate of top biotech and technology research institutions. Several companies have recently moved to the area, including Garmin and John Deere.Getty Images
/ Source: Forbes

Where is change coming to the job market? Where can you go where they're starting to really hire? Go south, young man (or woman). This fall eight cities in the American South have top-notch employment prospects, according to a new employment study.

Manpower, an employment services firm, asked more than 18,000 employers in 50 states and 100 metropolitan areas, "How do you anticipate total employment at your location to change in the three months to the end of December 2010 as compared to the current quarter?" Using the resulting data, Manpower completed a quarterly assessment of employment outlooks across the U.S. Whereas in 2009 employers expressed pessimistic hiring sentiments across the board, 2010 has brought four straight quarters of a generally positive hiring outlook. slideshow: The best cities for jobs this fall

The Raleigh area of North Carolina does the best of all this quarter, with a 15 percent net employment outlook, meaning the percentage of employers who expect to add employees minus the percentage who expect to have fewer of them. Harvey Schmitt, president of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, said several large companies, including John Deere and Garmin, have announced expansion or relocation plans in the area. The area pulls in businesses, he said, because its population of graduates from Duke University and University of Carolina at Chapel Hill provides "great talent in the market."

"It's encouraging," Schmitt said. "We're seeing existing industry growth and new companies moving to the area. This has been an environment where you have this combination of business, education and government all working together."

The Washington, D.C., area also has a strong showing this quarter, thanks to government expansion and job creation at federal agencies. Poughkeepsie, N.Y., does very well too. Charles North, president and CEO of the Dutchess County Chamber of Commerce, attributed the growth in hiring there to expansion at area universities and hospitals. Vassar College and Marist College are both in Poughkeepsie and are both growing, which helps the local construction industry. The Culinary Institute of America also recently expanded, and Poughkeepsie has built a new marina, boosting tourism and hospitality along its reinvigorated waterfront. Several hospitals in the area have also grown, North added.

"Poughkeepsie is a very user-friendly city," says North, a 31-year-resident of the area who undoubtedly is not impartial. "New York is a tough place to do business, but Poughkeepsie has all of the elements that attract business and tourism."

The list of the worst cities in terms of hiring outlook has shifted significantly from summer. Florida rebounded. Last quarter four of its cities gathered near the bottom on the barrel; this time only one, Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, makes the list.

Des Moines is projected to lose the most jobs of all, a turnaround from its relative health through the recession. Sin City makes the list for the third straight quarter: "Las Vegas is getting hit in two areas: hospitality and call centers," said Jeff Joerres, Manpower's chairman and chief executive.

The U.S. as a whole has a 4 percent net employment outlook. Nationwide the majority of companies, 71 percent, said they didn't plan to change their staffing levels at all in the fourth quarter. Some 15 percent anticipated increasing their staffs, while 11 percent expected a drop in payrolls. Seasonally adjusted, the outlook bumps to 5 percent. That's not terribly comforting news, but at least hiring has an edge over firing.