Metropolitan-area population: 4.0 million
Who's hiring now: ASU, Banner Health, suburban schools
Hottest jobs: Senior software developer ($84,800), IT project manager ($78,600), semiconductor process engineer ($78,000), physician's assistant ($76,200), construction project manager ($74,000)
In each of the past three years, the Phoenix area has created about 95,000 new jobs, many of them fueled by an unprecedented construction boom. This year's number is pegged at about 60,000--a major drop-off, to be sure, but still enough in the context of the national slowdown to place Phoenix solidly in the top 10. Low income taxes and sunny weather are still attracting a steady stream of newcomers, primarily from the Northeast and Midwest; 114,000 are expected this year, continuing to stoke demand for new roads, schools, and health-care facilities. So while Phoenix's homebuilding sector will likely be down about 40 percent in 2007, employment linked to long-term infrastructure projects will stay hot. Still, Phoenix remains largely a mom-and-pop economy, with small business expected to drive most of the job expansion.