The Texas juggernaut once again dominated the rankings for the best cities for job growth with Fort Worth retaining its No. 4 spot just ahead of No. 5 Houston and No. 6 Dallas.Austin, which had been No. 1 in the four previous years, dipped to No. 10 on the 2013 list of 66 large cities, and San Antonio rebounded eight spots to No. 12, said Los Angeles demographer Joel Kotkin, who produces the annual survey with Michael Shires, a professor at Pepperdine University School of Public Policy.Fort Worth has been very consistent; its got manufacturing and its got the energy industry. But theres very little difference in the top spots and for all five Texas cities to be in the top 12 is pretty amazing. I consider anything in the top 15 to be really good, Kotkin said Tuesday.The oil and gas boom has turned Texas into an economic juggernaut, but growth has also been strong in tech, manufacturing and business services, Kotkin wrote in the report, published by NewGeography.com, a site that analyzes economic, demographic and urban issues.Im not surprised about Texas because it has a very diversified economy. It has a good business climate and a lot of momentum. The state and the cities are in reasonably good fiscal shape and they have an attitude. Texas is a state of mind and that state of mind is about growth, he said.He said Texas continues to be the No. 1 destination for domestic migration.Theres also affordability; I think thats really critical especially when you compare Texas housing prices to places like San Francisco, San Jose and Los Angeles. Thats a huge factor, said Kotkin, executive editor of NewGeography and a distinguished presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University in Orange, CalifAll five big Texas metros have more jobs than a decade ago, Kotkin wrote. Since 2001, Houston has expanded by 20 percent; Fort Worth by about 16 percent; Dallas by 11 percent; Austin by a remarkable 26.5 percent; and San Antonio by 18.4 percent.Texas also dominated the rankings for 241 smaller cities with up to 150,000 jobs where the energy boomtowns of No. 1 Midland and No. 2 Odessa traded places at the top, followed closely by No. 5 San Angelo.Among 91 medium-size cities with 150,000 to 450,000 jobs, Corpus Christi fell two spots to No. 4 and McAllen dropped six slots to No. 9. El Paso fell by 19 to No. 23.The best-cities lists are based on employment data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics from November 2001 through January 2013. Cities are ranked based on recent, midterm and long-term growth and momentum.Momentum whether growth is slowing or accelerating tells the story for No. 1 San Francisco, which jumped from No. 17 in 2012, Kotkin said.San Francisco went through the economic doldrums for much of the last decade after the dot-com bust but sharply rebounded in the last year, driven by a 21.3 percent hike in the information sector. The same can be said for No. 7 San Jose, which recorded 3.4 percent job growth last year.Nashvilles diversified economy and 3.8 percent expansion in employment had it climbing seven spots to No. 2. Salt Lake City retained its No. 3 ranking. Rounding out the top 10 are No. 8 Charlotte, N.C., and No. 9 Denver.At the bottom of the large cities list were Newark, N.J. (66), St. Louis (65), Cleveland (64), Providence, R.I. (63), Kansas City, Mo. (62), and Birmingham, Ala. (61) Among all cities, Dalton, Ga., came in dead last at No. 398, just above Rocky Mount, N.C., (397) and Atlantic City, N.J. (396).The worst-performing Texas cities were No. 384 Wichita Falls and No. 259 Beaumont.
Steve Campbell, 817-390-7981 Twitter: @stevecamp