Employment evolution

This North Texas city climbs the ladder as a top place for workforce growth

This North Texas city climbs ladder as top place for workforce growth

Fort Worth skyline
Fort Worth is the 13th largest city in the U.S. Photo by benedek/Getty Images

Earlier this year, Fort Worth leapfrogged Columbus, Ohio, and San Francisco to become the country’s 13th largest city — two notches behind Austin.

Perhaps what’s even more impressive, though, is a significant measure of Fort Worth’s workforce growth. A new analysis by news website CityLab shows that among the 50 largest U.S. cities, Fort Worth gained the third-highest percentage of employed residents from 2012 to 2017.

The city's population of employed people soared 21.5 percent during that five-year period, according to CityLab. Only Miami (24.1 percent) and Atlanta (21.6 percent) ranked higher. Austin, the only other Texas city in this ranking, came in at No. 6 (20.2 percent).

Meanwhile, Fort Worth’s neighbor to the east — Arlington — ranked fifth for the slowest growth of the employed population (4.2 percent), CityLab says.

Fort Worth’s workforce growth aligns with its overall population growth, most notably its climb up the big-city ladder.

“The jump to 13th largest city in the U.S. will boost Fort Worth’s recognition worldwide as a formidable city in its own right and help draw more visitors and business investments. … When people see that Fort Worth is larger than San Francisco, it should pique some curiosity about what’s going on here,” Bill Thornton, president and CEO of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, said in May.

From 2012 to 2017, Fort Worth’s population jumped 12 percent, putting it in third place among the 50 largest cities, according to CityLab. Austin (12.8 percent) landed in the No. 2 spot. In first place was Seattle (14.2 percent).

“Fort Worth’s rapid growth speaks to our incredible quality of life, business-friendly climate, and affordable cost of living,” Mayor Betsy Price said in May. “Of course, substantial growth presents both great opportunities as well as new challenges to strategically manage our growth without compromising what makes Fort Worth a unique place to live, work, and play.”

One challenge that Fort Worth is beginning to overcome is the lack of high-paying jobs. From 2017 to 2018, Fort Worth saw a 3.6 percent increase in the number of high-paying jobs either created or retained, according to newly released data. Among the new high-wage jobs added during the one-year period were more than 1,300 in the professional services sector and 1,300 in the healthcare sector.

“Fort Worth’s competitive advantage has historically been in the manufacturing industry, as well as retail and service sector employment. However, these industries don’t usually offer high-wage jobs that can benefit the city through home sales and increased spending power for residents,” a city-commissioned report from consulting firm TIP Strategies notes.