The Nation’s Strongest Metros For Finance & Insurance Jobs

On the financial jobs front, the news seems to be all gloomy. Small banks are shedding employees, Wall Street may lose another 10,000 jobs by the end of next year, and according to one estimate, more than 200,000 financial services jobs around the globe have been axed in 2011 — at least 15% more than in 2009.

But has employment in the finance and insurance sector really taken a major hit? According to the most recent EMSI data, with estimates of workers not covered by unemployment insurance (e.g., the self-employed) factored in, the industry is growing. And a collection of big and emerging metro areas are particularly healthy in the finance and insurance realm.

Similar to Mark Schill’s technology job survey, EMSI created an index — based on 2011 jobs, employment concentration, and two-, five-, and 10-year job growth — to come up with the top finance and insurance metros in the US. We looked at data for more than 900 metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas, or MSAs, equally weighting five- and 10-year growth in the finance and insurance sector (NAICS 52) and focusing on concentration, two-year growth, and current job counts.

A few important notes: Recent years of proprietor data (2010 and 2011) in EMSI’s 2011.4 Complete Employment dataset, which we used for this for piece, are still estimates due to lag time in Bureau of Economic Analysis releases. Also, EMSI’s data is a jobs count rather than worker count; one person could hold multiple jobs.

The Results

It’s well-known that New York City is a financial powerhouse, and it comes out as the clear No. 1 metro in our ranking — well ahead of Dallas (No. 2), Des Moines, Iowa (No. 3), Houston (No.4), and Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn. (No. 5). Des Moines, the 88th most populous metro in the US, figures prominently on our list because of its strong core of insurance carriers and credit intermediation firms. Principal Insurance and EMC Insurance Companies are headquartered in Des Moines, while Wells Fargo, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and other insurance/financial service companies have sizable presences there.

Hartford, Conn., has the second-highest concentration of insurance carriers in the US, behind Des Moines, and is nearly five times more concentrated in “funds, trusts, and other financial vehicles” jobs than the national average; it comes in at No. 14 in our ranking. Hartford has added more than 6,500 finance and insurance jobs, an 8.4% increase, since 2006.

Other smaller metros to crack our top 30: Bloomington-Normal, Ill. (No. 12), Sioux Falls, S.D. (No. 17), and Stevens Point, Wis. (No. 22). Each is among the most-concentrated metros for financial jobs in the US, yet each has lost between 2% and 5% of its financial employment since 2009.

Chicago and Washington, D.C., two metros with hefty financial job numbers, made the list. But they were perhaps lower than expected (Nos. 20 and 28, respectively.)

Top 12 in Detail

Here are more details on the top 12 metros (with their index score in parentheses). The top 30, with their associated data, are included in a table below.

1. New York City-Northern New Jersey-Long Island (88.18). The unquestioned center of the financial market, New York City had continued to add finance and insurance jobs, albeit at a slower pace in the last two years than before the recession. Nearly 10% of all jobs in this sector can be found in New York. It’s important to note that this is the New York City metro area, and thus includes Long Island, 12 counties in New Jersey, and Pike County, Pa. For context, the NYC metro has more finance and insurance jobs than New York state.

2. Dallas-Forth Worth-Arlington (67.86). Finance and insurance jobs have risen more than 50% since 2001 in Dallas, and by nearly 30% since 2006. The Metroplex is home to the headquarters of Comerica Bank, among many other major corporations that have large financial divisions. Portfolio management jobs have more than doubled in the last five years, while employment in investment advice has also skyrocketed.

3. Des Moines, Iowa (33.96). We’ve already detailed how Des Moines is an insurance dynamo. But it also bears mentioning that no other metro is more highly concentrated in all finance and insurance jobs. Des Moines lost 30% of its sales financing and real estate credit jobs and almost 50% of its credit card issuing jobs since 2006, but all three industries are still heavily concentrated in the region.

4. Houston (33.94). Like Dallas, Houston has seen huge financial growth over last five and 10 years. Much of the expansion has come in miscellaneous intermediation, portfolio management, investment advice, and open-end investment funds, an industry in which Houston is heavily concentrated.

5. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn. (32.51). This MSA, which benefits from spillover from New York City, has been powered by the portfolio management industry. Portfolio management jobs have accounted for nearly have of all new jobs since 2009 (and more than half in the last five years). The direct life insurance carriers industry however, has dipped 46% since ’09. The People’s United Bank is headquartered in Bridgeport and is one of the area’s largest employers.

6. Los Angeles (32.37). Only New York City has more financial jobs than Los Angeles, but growth in LA has been stagnant recently. The biggest loss since 2009 has come in direct life, health, and medical insurance carriers (-26%).

7. San Antonio (29.90). The third Texas metro in the top seven, San Antonio is home to USAA, a Fortune 500 financial services company, and other major finance and insurance players. Commercial banking has grown 24% in the two years in San Antonio, while nearly 17% of city’s finance and insurance jobs in among direct insurance carriers. 

8. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minn. (29.38). Wells Fargo and US Bank have big presences in the Twin Cities,  while several large financial firms — including Ameriprise Financial and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, a Fortune 500 company — are headquartered there. The Twin Cities have seen steady growth in each of the timeframes we analyzed, and is also home to one of 12 Federal Reserve Districts.

9. Philadelphia (28.42). Philly has a vibrant financial district and is especially concentrated with open-end investment fund jobs (roughly nine times the national average). In the last two years, Philadelphia financial job growth has been stagnant, but the sector has seen 17% expansion in the last decade.

10. Miami (28.39). Miami has the seventh-most finance and insurance jobs in the nation, and its downtown district boasts the largest concentration of international banks in the US. Of Miami’s almost 200,000 jobs in this sector, close to 50,000 are in commercial banking and investment advice.

11. Phoenix (28.33). Phoenix’s financial jobs growth has been slow since 2009, but the investment advice sector has jumped 10% in employment, now comprising an estimated 20,000 jobs in this metro. Phoenix is also heavily concentrated in credit intermediation, specifically the “financial transactions processing, reserve, and clearinghouse activities” sector.

12. Bloomington-Normal, Ill. (27.86). At just over 170,000 residents, this is the smallest metro to make the top 12 of our list.. Bloomington-Normal, though, was the most-concentrated metro in financial jobs in 2001, and is now the second-most concentrated. The biggest reason: State Farm Insurance has its headquarters in Bloomington. The metro has nearly 10,000 jobs in the “direct property and casualty insurance carriers” industry, which is a whopping 30 times more concentrated in Bloomington-Normal than the nation. However, insurance carrier jobs have declined 4% in the last two years in Bloomington-Normal.

Rank Metro Area 2011 Finance & Insurance Jobs 2-Year Growth Rate 5-Year Growth Rate 10-Year Growth Rate 2011 Concentration Finance & Insurance Index
Source: EMSI Complete Employment, 2011.4
1 New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA 889,678 2.51% 13.99% 14.30% 1.5 88.2
2 Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 336,873 3.81% 28.63% 53.21% 1.53 67.9
3 Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA 56,775 1.07% 11.43% 27.32% 2.61 34
4 Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX 176,882 2.79% 26.85% 45.81% 0.93 33.9
5 Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT 73,297 2.36% 25.47% 41.75% 2.21 32.5
6 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA 411,015 0.88% 5.60% 14.50% 1.01 32.4
7 San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX 87,588 5.77% 30.97% 51.61% 1.34 29.9
8 Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI 159,526 3.32% 11.80% 20.05% 1.32 29.4
9 Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD 249,291 -0.01% 10.81% 17.05% 1.34 28.4
10 Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL 196,176 0.96% 11.65% 31.62% 1.16 28.4
11 Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, AZ 165,628 0.98% 11.00% 31.14% 1.36 28.3
12 Bloomington-Normal, IL 13,751 -2.90% 7.67% -0.05% 2.24 27.9
13 Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT 85,983 0.36% 8.37% 7.59% 1.99 27.5
14 Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH 219,268 0.31% 13.38% 13.27% 1.28 27
15 St. Louis, MO-IL 100,520 4.90% 21.97% 26.00% 1.1 24.8
16 Salt Lake City, UT 68,970 0.60% 22.93% 32.89% 1.54 24
17 Sioux Falls, SD 18,584 -4.54% 6.02% 14.89% 1.94 23.9
18 Denver-Aurora-Broomfield, CO 123,625 0.09% 14.47% 22.21% 1.37 23.6
19 Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SC 80,022 2.44% 4.10% 61.16% 1.38 23.1
20 Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL-IN-WI 375,174 -1.85% 9.06% 9.11% 1.25 23
21 Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, TX 62,049 5.38% 33.49% 64.41% 1.05 22.8
22 Stevens Point, WI 4,566 -4.18% -2.71% 13.50% 1.95 22.6
23 Jacksonville, FL 67,956 0.52% 10.38% 20.30% 1.57 22.5
24 Pittsburgh, PA 86,958 2.96% 20.37% 22.93% 1.11 21.3
25 Kansas City, MO-KS 85,860 0.67% 13.90% 22.12% 1.25 19.9
26 Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA 44,022 2.09% 15.57% 19.17% 1.4 19.9
27 Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA 30,191 10.63% 17.69% 29.19% 1.3 19.7
28 Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV 153,938 1.25% 11.80% 21.77% 0.73 19.6
29 Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN 57,387 5.34% 21.43% 25.11% 1.04 19.4
30 Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL 109,341 -1.18% 6.97% 23.32% 1.34 19.4

Outside the top 30, there are several smaller metros that have seen huge gains in the financial sector. In Utah, Ogden (No. 40) and Provo (No. 46) have both doubled or nearly doubled their employment in this sector in the last decade. Tucson, Ariz. (No. 68) has grown nearly 6% since 2009, and Trenton, N.J. (No. 39) has grown by 4% in the last two years.

For more on this list or EMSI data, contact Josh Wright. You can follow us on Twitter @DesktopEcon.

Illustration by Mark Beauchamp.

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