FILE - Employment Arizona

Job seekers work at computer stations looking for employment at the Arizona Workforce Connection West Valley Career Center on Friday, Jan. 7, 2011, in Phoenix.

(The Center Square) – Arizona, specifically Maricopa County, is the best location in America for attracting workers.

Idaho-based analyst EMSI's 2021 Talent Attraction Scorecard showed Maricopa County experienced the most significant increase in the number of working-age residents gained and had the best marks in regional competitiveness among large counties.

EMSI’s Regional Competitiveness Ranking pits similarly-populated counties against each other regarding how well the areas attract and retain talent. In total, the report considers migration data, skilled and overall job growth, education attainment, regional competitiveness and job openings per capita.

The ranking marks the second consecutive time the Phoenix area topped EMSI’s list and the fourth time in the past six years the county has led the list.

The report, which was released Monday, found Maricopa County attracted 199,460 working-age adults between 2016 and 2020. The second-highest county, Clark County in Nevada, added 106,617 in that same window.

The report sought to determine whether local politics had anything to do with population change and migration between counties. The authors found large counties in states with Republican governors experienced average growth over recent years, while metropolitan areas in states with a Democratic governor saw more population declines. Smaller counties, however, didn’t show the same correlation.

Instead, the report found the most likely reason for migration to be opportunities.

“When businesses move to a new location, perhaps for a more favorable regulatory and taxation climate, workers often follow,” the report said. “But the reverse can also be true; as people seek more space or affordability, it may be the businesses that follow to where the people are – especially at a time when labor is in short supply.”

The news was touted by Gov. Doug Ducey in a news release from the Arizona Commerce Authority.

“Thanks to our incredible quality of life and robust talent pipeline, once again, Arizona is the best place in the nation to hire skilled workers,” Ducey said. “Arizona is laser-focused on equipping our state’s workers with skills for in-demand jobs. We bring everyone to the table, with industry driving where we have demand and how best to meet it. We look forward to continuing this forward-thinking strategy to equip even more residents with the skills needed for tomorrow’s jobs.”

The ranking came at a time when companies are struggling to attain and retain workers. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, a record 4.4 million Americans quit their jobs in September. The nation saw 10.4 million job openings in the same month, according to BLS.

Regional Editor

Cole Lauterbach is a regional editor for The Center Square covering Arizona, California, and Nevada. For more than a decade, Cole has produced award-winning content on both radio and television.