While unemployment numbers are improving nationally, some cities are faring better than others, new research shows.
A study by research firm Gallup revealed that Houston led the nation's 50 largest metro areas in job creation in 2012 by having the widest gap between the percentage of employers hiring (45 percent) and firing (12 percent). The number of Houston employers hiring, up 7 percentage points from 2011, was most in the nation.
Other cities ranking in the top five for job creation were Columbus, Ohio; Orlando, Fla.; Charlotte, N.C.; and Salt Lake City, Utah. Orlando was the only metro area to rank in the top five for both the past two years. Last year's top ranked area, Oklahoma City, dropped to ninth place in 2012.
At the other end of the spectrum is Riverside, Calif., which ranked in the study as the most challenging job environment among major metro areas. The Southern California city had the smallest gap between employers adding new employees (31.6 percent) and letting employees go (21.3 percent). The data shows that Riverside led the nation in the number of companies that are decreasing staffing levels.
Other cities at the bottom of the rankings included San Diego, Calif.; New York, N.Y.; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Buffalo, N.Y., which had the lowest hiring percentage in the nation at just 29 percent.
The study's researchers believe the data shows signs of hope for the U.S. economy. They point specifically to the fact that most large metropolitan areas showed improvement in their compared with a year ago, and of those that didn't, like Oklahoma City and Pittsburgh, were among the best areas in 2011.
Nationwide, 35 percent of workers in 2012 reported their employers were hiring, compared with 17 percent of employers letting workers go.
The results were based on Gallup Daily tracking interviews conducted throughout 2012 in the 50 most populous Metropolitan Statistical Areas. Gallup interviewed between 663 and 8,837 employees per area.