Provo’s job market ranks No. 2 in the nation for smaller metro areas

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The sun sets over BYU campus in Provo. Provo was ranked the No. 2 hottest job market in the nation. (Ryan Campbell/BYU Photo)

The Wall Street Journal ranked Provo No. 2 in the nation for hottest job markets in terms of smaller metropolitan areas.

The Wall Street Journal released research in April ranking American cities based on unemployment rate, labor-force participation rate, job growth, labor-force growth and wage growth in 2021.

Keith Morey, director of Provo’s Economic Development Division, said there are several factors which make Provo an ideal community for businesses and their employees, including a strong entrepreneurial spirit, a heavy focus in the tech industry and even BYU’s reputation.

Morey said that adaptability, especially in the tech industry, helped Provo survive economically during the pandemic.

“Because of the heavy tech industry focus that Provo has, and because that environment is so used to adaptation they were able to quickly respond,” he explained.

With tech giants like Oracle, Vivint, Qualtrics and Adobe nearby, Provo has plenty of opportunities for tech employees. Morey also said the heavy tech presence helps develop “intellectual capital” in the area. Thanks to that entrepreneurial spirit, employees from these larger companies can leave with their skills and knowledge and create startups. Morey called it the “genealogy of the tech industry.”

“They might not be working for WordPerfect or Novell anymore, but that’s because they’ve started another company,” he said. “And that just kind of continues on and on.”

Morey said this has made Provo a “seedbed for technology development” in and around Utah County.

Along with the tech industry, Morey said BYU’s reputation makes Provo an attractive option for companies looking to put down roots.

“BYU generates superior employment capital compared to most universities around the country,” he said. “And companies know that and specifically come to recruit that kind of talent.”

Riley Cameron, a BYU economics student, said he hasn’t had a hard time finding a job in college. He said Provo’s No. 2 ranking made sense considering how many entrepreneurs choose Provo. 

“I feel like there’s a lot of startups around here,” he said. “It doesn’t surprise me too much that that also means that there’s a lot of jobs.” 

Cameron doesn’t expect to join Provo’s workforce long term. He said after graduation he would prefer to start his career somewhere else, but not for lack of opportunities. 

“I think I just want to get out and see other places,” he said.

Summer Stevens Hughes is a civil engineering major working on research in Provo this summer. She said the job market may be “hot,” but “that doesn’t mean there’s a job for everyone.” 

She said she would expect to be able to find a job in her field, but the market seems more uncertain for business majors like her husband. 

Morey said he thinks Provo deserves the high rankings.

“I think it’s a reflection of the quality and caliber of people that live here and the incredible opportunities that there are here in Provo,” he said.

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