The pandemic is having a lasting impact on job growth, according to new Indeed report

January 20, 2022, 4:25 PM UTC

As of Jan. 7, U.S. job postings on were 61.9% above where they were on Feb. 1, 2020 — a date used as a general pre-pandemic baseline for labor market activity. But the uptick in job growth isn’t distributed evenly across the country. There continues to be persistent geographic shifts in the labor market as the pandemic drags on, according to research from Indeed. 

“Metros where a higher share of people can work from home continue to recover more slowly than metros generally,” writes AnnElizabeth Konkel, an economist at the Indeed Hiring Lab, in a recently updated report on job growth. These metro areas trail 13 percentage points behind the national average for job growth and include tech and financial centers like San Francisco, San Jose, and Washington, DC.

Konkel defines a “work-from-home” city as one that’s share of job listings that can be done from home is greater than 45%, with the national average being 37%. That designation is based on American Community Survey data on county employment by occupation and a recent analysis on whether occupations can be done from home by Jonathan Dingel, an associate professor of economics at University of Chicago and software engineer Brett Nieman. 

The mix of factors that contribute to fluctuations in the labor market has shifted during the past two years. “Most of the metros seeing the fastest growth in job postings on Indeed have a lower cost of living than the national average,” Konkel tells Fortune. “A metro’s cost of living, especially during a time of elevated inflation, is going to factor into where people want to live and work.”

Notably, the only “work-from-home” city included among the top 10 cities with the fastest increase in job postings is Austin, where steady economic growth preceded the onset of the pandemic.

“Through the pandemic, tech hubs have collectively recovered slower than metros overall,” says Konkel, referring specifically to Baltimore, Boston, Raleigh, N.C., San Francisco, San Jose, Calif., Seattle, and Washington, DC. Though these cities retained jobs within the tech sector, they saw significant losses elsewhere, with steep declines in local service sectors that in the past would cater to workers who are now working remotely. “Additionally, some of these tech hub metros’ cost of living is above the national average,” she adds.

Boise City, Idaho and Phoenix have also shown “some of the fastest recovery in job postings on Indeed since the start of the pandemic,” says Konkel, with Boise leading the country in job growth with postings on Indeed up 94.8% since Feb. 1, 2020. These cities, however, have also seen steady employment growth for years. 

Boise in particular is at the vanguard of emerging tech markets concentrated in the midwest — with legacy companies like Micron Technology and Cradlepoint headquartered in the city alongside emerging startups like the software firm Vynyl and radar innovator Lumineye.

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