Earlier this week, Michael Shires, associate professor in public policy at Pepperdine University, and Joel Kotkin posted on Forbes and New Geography their annual list of the best cities for job growth in the country -- though Kotkin adds the caveat that given the state of things, "perhaps we should call the rankings not the 'best' places for jobs, but the 'least worst.'" Either way, North Texas -- hell, most of Texas -- sits high atop the list, with "Fort Worth-Arlington" ranking No. 4 among large cities, followed at No. 5 by "Dallas-Plano-Irving." Austin, Houston and San Antonio round out the Top Three, in that order.
And places like McAllen, Odessa, Longview and other Texas towns top the small and medium cities lists, rendering the complete lineup very Lone Star State-flavored. Writes Kotkin of the state's success on his list:
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The Lone Star State may have lost a powerful advocate in Washington, but it's home to a remarkable eight of the top 20 cities on our list -- including No. 1-ranked Odessa, a small city in the state's northwestern region. Further, the top five large metropolitan areas for job growth -- Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Ft. Worth and Dallas -- are all in Texas' "urban triangle."
The reasons for the state's relative success are varied. A healthy energy industry is certainly one cause. Many Texas high-fliers, including Odessa, Longview, Dallas and Houston, are home to energy companies that employ hordes of people -- and usually at fairly high salaries for both blue- and white-collar workers. In some places, these spurts represent a huge reversal from the late 1990s.