Geography of Recovery: Cumulative Job Gains/Losses since December 2007 by Metropolitan Statistical Area

October 1, 2015

By: TIP Staff

When we released the Geography of Jobs in spring 2008, our goal was to visualize the answer to a seemingly simple question: How did the impact of the recession play out across the country? The resulting animated map—which shows the 12-month rolling job change for all US metros from 1999 to the present—was a resounding success. It provides a vivid illustration of the magnitude of pre-recession job growth and the subsequent dramatic job losses. What our approach failed to capture, however, is the recession’s cumulative impact.

In the second quarter of 2014, it was widely reported that the US had “recovered” all the jobs lost since the start of the recession more than six years earlier. But as we traveled across the country, it didn’t take much to see that many areas were still suffering. With our latest map, the Geography of Recovery, we use the same data to explore this issue. As the name suggests, our new data visualization picks up on the question of recovery: How have individual metro areas fared since the start of the recession? Which metros felt the greatest job losses as a percentage of pre-recession employment? Which have yet to recover the jobs they lost? Which areas recovered faster? Were there any that saw minimal negative impact or even emerged unscathed?

How to Read the Map

Unlike the prior map, which illustrates the change in jobs relative to the same period 12 months earlier, the Geography of Recovery compares employment levels in each metro area to the number of jobs reported at the beginning of the economic downturn. To simplify the comparison, the map uses an index to illustrate this relationship. Each metro starts at 100 percent, which represents total employment in December 2007 (the recession’s official start). From that point forward, the size of each metro’s corresponding bubble grows or shrinks based on the percentage of jobs gained or lost relative to the baseline. A red bubble indicates a cumulative job loss; a blue bubble represents cumulative job gains.

Like the original Geography of Jobs, you can hover over each metro bubble and watch the actual percentage change over time. You’ll also notice two animated “dashboard” features on the left of the map that track with the animation’s timeline. The first is a simple percentage, titled “US share of 2007 employment,” which shows the nation’s job change relative to the baseline. The second indicator is a set of bars representing the number of metros above (in blue) or below (in red) December 2007 employment levels.

Revelations on Recovery

The most striking revelation from this visualization is the unevenness of the recovery. By the time the US returned to its December 2007 employment level in May 2014, the majority of metro areas had not recovered. As of July 2015—more than one year later—fully one-third (120) of the more than 300 metro areas analyzed had not yet recovered the number of jobs lost during the recession.

At TIP Strategies, we are always looking for ways to translate data into insights about economic development. We hope you will help us with this task by providing feedback and sharing your insights at the end of this blog post.

Footnote: We recognize the limitations to this approach:


  • It does not account for population change in each metro over time. Because jobs can grow faster or slower than population, the impact of employment change on a metro’s population may not be reflected.

  • We picked Dec 2007 as the starting point, since this was the date that the national recession officially began. But, some metros, such as Detroit, had already experienced significant job losses in the previous 2 years. Detroit was in a recession long before the official national recession began, therefore their bubble does not reflect losses from the time prior to December 2007.

  • Following the 2010 Census, the federal Office of Management and Budget revised the official definitions of a number of metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs). This once-a-decade overhaul (released in February 2013) resulted in the addition of a number of new metro areas, the change of metro boundaries, as well as the loss of the MSA designation for a number of existing areas. Some added counties, lost counties, or were combined with neighboring metros to form larger MSAs; others lost their designation due to population declines. In implementing these new standards, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics could not produce seasonally adjusted data for all the affected metro areas beginning with its March 2015 release of data from the Current Employment Statistics (CES) program, the data series used to create the Geography of Recovery. While 69 metro areas without seasonally adjusted data are not included in the animation, we have provided a table [PDF] showing the annual percent change in employment since December 2007 using unadjusted data.


The New And Improved Geography Of Jobs

October 20, 2014

By: Jeff Marcell, Senior Partner and John Karras, Consultant, TIP Strategies


We hope you will take a moment to check out our “new and improved” Geography of Jobs. In our updated version, we’ve included 372 metros* and extended the timeline back to 1999. As in the previous version, each bubble shows the net change in employment in a given metro area compared to the same period one year earlier. The diameter of each bubble reflects the size of the loss or gain. But, unlike the original Geography of Jobs, you can now place your cursor over any of the metros and watch the actual job numbers change over time . If you press the pause button, you can also move your cursor over any metro and compare actual job losses or gains at any point in the timeline. Another “behind the scenes” feature is our ability to map new datasets, such as job change by sector.

At TIP Strategies, we are always looking for ways to translate data into insights about economic development. We hope you will help us with this task by providing feedback and sharing your insights at the end of this blog post.

Map highlights:

  • The Great Recession officially lasted from December 2007 to June 2009, but the job losses spanned a longer timeframe, beginning early in 2007 and extending well into 2010. Some regions were hit harder than others, some were hit earlier, and some took longer to recover, but no corner of the US was spared.

  • The Dot-Com Bubble was marked by rapid job growth in some of the country’s leading high-tech regions (Silicon Valley, Boston, Seattle, Austin) in 1999 and 2000. You can then see these same regions losing lots of jobs from 2001 to 2003 during the Dot-Com bust and subsequent recession. Silicon Valley actually continued losing jobs into 2004, even while the rest of the country had come out of the recession and was gaining jobs.

  • The Housing Bubble, following the relatively mild recession that began in 2001, led to unprecedented job growth across the country. Buoyed by easy money (i.e., subprime mortgages), housing supported strong job growth in places like Las Vegas, Phoenix, Atlanta, and Southern Florida. You will also see that these same places were the first to begin losing jobs as the housing market collapsed, starting in 2007.

  • Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans in late July 2005, a disaster that had an immediate and lingering impact on jobs in the region. However, you will notice that metros in the periphery, most notably Baton Rouge, actually saw a significant uptick in jobs during that time due to temporary (and perhaps permanent for many) outmigration from New Orleans.

  • Watching the Midwestern US, especially the manufacturing-centric states of Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana, reveals that many of the metro areas in these states never enjoyed the economic growth experienced by most of the country from 2003 to 2006. Red bubbles cover much of the area surrounding Detroit from 2002 all the way until the end of the Great Recession in 2010. However, the employment situation in the Midwest has taken a turn for the better in recent years thanks to the recovery of the US automotive industry beginning in 2010.



We are excited about the upgrades to the Geography of Jobs and hope you find it useful. And we would love to hear from you. Please take a moment to share your comments on how the tool did (or did not) provide any insights about your community, any regional or national trends of significance, and other datasets we should consider mapping.

Thanks for viewing.

*NOTE: Map includes the 372 MSAs for which data are available from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Healthcare: Rx for Economic Growth

May 19, 2011

By: Jon Roberts and Caroline Alexander, TIP Strategies
Via: IEDC, ED Now (member login required)

The impressive expansion of the nation’s healthcare sector has proven resistant to economic downturns. Over the last two business cycles, healthcare employment has grown by more than 30 percent nationally. Total nonfarm employment, on the other hand, has increased by just 3 percent. This resilience is almost certain to continue. Optimistic growth prospects are well supported by demographic trends. As a result, the sector has caught the eye of many communities seeking to strengthen their economies. The challenge for economic development organizations is how to maximize the economic benefit of this sector.


While healthcare may not be seen as a traditional target for economic development, the sector offers many of the benefits of a “primary industry:” it often draws in outside dollars, it has linkages across a wide supply chain, and it offers a number of opportunities for high-wage, skilled jobs. In addition, access to healthcare has become an essential element of a region’s infrastructure. For these reasons, targeting healthcare can be an effective way to strengthen and expand a regional economy. The following framework provides a starting point for communities that want to consider this strategy.

1. Assess the sector. Economic development organizations typically have an incomplete picture of who is involved in providing medical services. They may have the CEO of the regional hospital on their board, but they may not know what services are (and are not) provided or how a hospital relates to clinics and physicians outside the system. More importantly, they may not have a full understanding of the supply chain on which the hospital relies. Assessing the sector and creating a complete cluster and network map is the starting point for crafting a healthcare strategy.

2. Engage relevant stakeholders. The next step involves understanding your local sector’s growth prospects. This requires direct communication with relevant stakeholders – regional healthcare providers, higher education institutions, and the local development community. Regional healthcare providers can provide information about their expansion plans and workforce needs. Higher education partners can provide insight into corresponding training programs, key research initiatives, and expansion plans. Beyond that, engaging the development community on the benefits of anchoring developments with healthcare and medical assets can lay a strategic foundation.

3. Identify the opportunity. With a complete picture of the healthcare sector and a deep understanding of its growth prospects, the community is ready to identify possible “catalyst” projects. These projects should include more than one strategic anchor that will help the project reach critical mass. Projects should be evaluated based on their potential job creation, tax revenue generation, capital costs to the community, and other tangible and intangible benefits. The project with the highest potential should be prioritized for investment.

4. Establish a framework. The tools needed to promote the opportunity must be put in place, starting with a clear vision and attainable goals for the project. Then, a framework must be established through the community’s regulatory environment and resource allocation to advance the opportunity. This will involve planning tools such as zoning and overlay districts. Adequate funding sources, including grants, bonds, and tax increment reinvestment zones, also need to be identified to finance needed infrastructure. Innovative incentives programs that support the recruitment of key tenants should also be part of the mix.

5. Implement. Ultimately, success depends on a shared vision. Keeping stakeholders fully engaged from inception to implementation will require an integrated approach – one that also involves business recruitment, marketing, entrepreneurship, and workforce development. A concerted effort can yield tangible and widespread benefits.

How it’s working in Round Rock, Texas

Round Rock is one of a growing number of examples of how the healthcare sector can be harnessed for economic development. Using a large tract donated by a local landowner, the City of Round Rock, in collaboration with the Round Rock Chamber of Commerce, higher education institutions, and regional healthcare providers, has formed a nascent, yet robust, healthcare cluster.
The basis of Round Rock’s approach was the creation of a medical education campus. The campus links medical education programs (offered by Texas A&M Health Science Center, Texas State University School of Nursing, and Austin Community College) with regional healthcare providers (Seton Medical Center Williamson, St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center, Scott & White University Medical Center, and Lonestar Circle of Care). The campus functions as an anchor for Avery Centre, a commercial node of the Avery Farms master-planned development. Employees, patients, visitors, and students connected with the medical education campus enhance the commercial and retail value of the development.

The project is textbook economic development – it generates high-paying professional jobs, enhances Round Rock’s workforce training, creates a magnet for talent, boosts commercial tax rolls, supports retail development, serves as an asset to attract bioscience companies (a target industry) and provides a valuable community service. What more could a single project strive for?