Among U.S. metro areas, Washington, Dallas and Boston led the pack in number of jobs gained last year.
WASHINGTON - Jobs are hard to come by in every U.S. city, but you stand a better chance of getting hired if you live in the Twin Cities.
The top three were Washington, Dallas and Boston -- all home to industries that are poised to hire this year. Information technology companies, biomedical research firms and government contractors are growing industries that are likely to add to their payrolls in the coming months -- and the federal government has plenty of jobs listed, too.
The unemployment rate fell in 207 of the 372 largest metro areas in December, the most to report a decline since September, the Labor Department said Wednesday. In Minneapolis-St. Paul, the unemployment rate of 6.5 percent was the same as a month earlier and down from 7.2 percent in December 2009.
Nationwide, the unemployment rate dropped sharply in December to 9.4 percent from 9.8 percent. About half that decline was because more unemployed workers gave up on their job searches. The government doesn't count people as unemployed when they stop looking for work. The metro data lag behind the national data by several weeks.
The largest generators of net jobs, Washington, Dallas-Fort Worth, Boston, Phoenix and Minneapolis-St. Paul, all have unemployment rates below the national average.
Boston, Dallas and Washington are among the top 10 areas with the most online job ads in January, according to the Conference Board's help wanted online index.
The IT advantage
All three have benefited from growth in the information technology sector, economists said. Companies like Intel, which has a plant in the Boston region, are producing more semiconductors, and computer makers have also boosted output. Corporations are investing more in computer networking and data storage equipment.
That's helped companies like EMC Corp., which is based in the Boston area and makes data storage network equipment, and Dallas-based chipmaker Texas Instruments.
"Those sectors have bounced back much better" than struggling areas such as housing or auto production, said Alan Clayton-Matthews, an economist at Northeastern University.
The Washington metro area, which includes suburbs in Maryland and northern Virginia, has also benefited from accelerated hiring by the federal government. The area added 57,500 jobs last year, the most of any city. The region's unemployment rate fell to 5.7 percent in December -- the lowest unemployment rate among major metro areas.