By Rose L. Thayer
Killeen Daily Herald
The Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood area has claimed the top spot on a Best Cities for Job Growth list compiled by NewGeography.com for Forbes Magazine.
It moved up from No. 4 on last year's list of best overall job markets, dethroning Jacksonville, N.C., home to the Marine Corps' Camp Lejeune.
To determine rankings, Kotkin said his team looked at job growth in 398 metropolitan statistical areas from January 2010 to January 2011, in addition to longer-term market momentum. Government, transportation, leisure and hospitality and manufacturing have been some of the highest-gaining sectors in Killeen.
Since 1999, Killeen's job market has grown 18.7 percent. It's grown several percentage points over the last several years, Kotkin said, even as the national economy has suffered.
Jerry Haisler, director of Workforce Solutions of Central Texas, said he agrees that the Killeen job market is still growing.
"I would say ours is a good job growth area for several reasons," Haisler said, including population increase, an increase in construction and ongoing projects at Fort Hood. He also said a number of call centers, such as Persidium, have moved into the area and he anticipates they will do more hiring in the near future.
"Health-related business and the service industry, those are typically the ones that continue to grow," Haisler said.
There were 27 percent more jobs posted here in the first quarter of 2011 than the last quarter of 2010. Haisler said those job postings could also be calling for more than one position within the company.
The area's unemployment rate as of March was down to 7.9 percent, a slight decrease from February, and it continues to be lower than the state average of 8.1 percent.
"This announcement is gratifying," said John Crutchfield, Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce president. "We are fortunate to live in the center of a state with a business-friendly environment and in a community who enjoys a productive, supportive relationship with our military neighbor, Fort Hood."
Overall, Texas did well on the rankings list, scoring the top spots in each market size category: Killeen in the small-city market, in addition to the overall category; El Paso in the medium, with Corpus Christi at No. 2; and Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos in large cities.
"Texas is winning and winning in many ways," Kotkin said.
To see the full ranking list, go to www.newgeography.com.