The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its latest metro-area unemployment data this week, and there's good news: unemployment rates improved in 262 of the country's 372 metro areas.
Also reassuring: the number of metros with double-digit unemployment fell from 119 to 100, and those with unemployment below 7 percent increased from 55 to 74.
But those figures can be somewhat misleading. For example, the four metros in New Mexico had among the largest improvements in their unemployment rates. But three of those communities actually lost jobs.
The unemployment rates there are skewed by large numbers of residents who gave up on finding work or who aren't reflected in the figures because they've been unemployed so long their unemployment insurance has run out, says Christopher Erickson, an economics professor at New Mexico State University.
So instead, Governing is focusing on which metro areas had the largest increases in employment -- regardless of the unemployment rate.
Below are the 20 metro areas (with at least 200,000 workers) that had the largest relative increases in employment from August 2010 to August 2011. Topping the list is Ogden, Utah, which added 7,200 employees -- a 3.7 percent increase -- over the year.
The measure isn't perfect. Three of the metros that made the list -- McAllen, Tex.; Winston-Salem, N.C.; and Austin, Tex. actually saw their unemployment rates worsen, despite big increases in the number of employed workers, due to their growing labor force. But the measure does provide a look at which parts of the country are having the most success adding new workers.
View Top 20 Metros for Employment Growth in a full screen map