Locally Optimal
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Locally Optimal

Yelp’s Local Economic Outlook: Las Vegas Tops The Nation For Business Growth

Las Vegas is the nation’s top urban area for business growth, according to the latest installment of Yelp’s Local Economic Outlook, ranking 50 metro areas over the second quarter of 2018. The next two cities for business growth — Austin, Texas; and Miami, Florida — also ranked in the top three in the previous quarter’s ranking, with Las Vegas replacing Atlanta. Cities where openings greatly outnumber closures are ones where entrepreneurs have spotted opportunity and existing businesses have found success.

Las Vegas’s surge to the top of the list was fueled by home-services growth, signaling activity throughout the home-buying and home-owning life cycles as the region’s construction sector booms. Movers, mortgage brokers and specialists in flooring, solar installation, and masonry and concrete all opened their doors at rates far outstripping business closures throughout the Vegas area. In the first quarter, as many home-services businesses in the region closed as opened; second-quarter growth in the sector really drove Vegas’s recovery.

№2 Austin’s story also is one of home-services strength, with some different power centers: pressure washers, fences and gates, and HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). True to its foodie reputation, Austin also has boomed in coffee and tacos, including the second-quarter openings of Hank’s and Nixtamal Tacos and Drinks. (Cassie B.: “Just tried this new neighborhood spot and can already say it will be a favorite!”)

Miami’s growth, third highest nationally, was fueled by the health sector, with doctors in many different specialties opening practices. Salons, offering a different kind of care, also boomed in the area, including Biscayne Nail and Beauty Bar. (Natalia P.: “I love this new place.”)

Atlanta, meanwhile, fell out of the top three in large part because of a decline in growth in home services. The sector remains strong but couldn’t keep pace with first-quarter growth, due in part to the closures of businesses such as the highly rated AHH Smart Move Services.

Detecting economic trends by measuring business growth is a technique equally relevant for types of businesses as for metro areas. In an accompanying report, we chart the meteoric growth in businesses selling the Hawaiian raw-fish dish poke around the U.S.

The Local Economic Outlook, or LEO, is a program to rank U.S. metro areas by the pace of growth in their local-business population. This program is part of a larger, ongoing project to surface insights from Yelp’s deep data stores to help businesses succeed and arm policymakers with the information they need to boost local economies.

You can see where other cities rank on the list and what’s changed over the past four quarters in the interactive chart below.

Past LEO reports:

Q1 2018
Q4 2017
Q3 2017


We rank metros by the rate of change in number of businesses between the start and end of the quarter. We count business openings and closures by when those events are registered on Yelp by users and business owners; our checks indicate that any reporting lags are largely consistent across metros and wouldn’t substantially alter the rankings.

Time Frame

The rankings are based on data from the second quarter of 2018 (April through June). The changes in rankings are based on comparing data from the second quarter of 2018 with data from the first quarter of 2018 (January through March).


We include businesses in the top 10 primary categories on Yelp, according to page views. Data for a business in multiple primary categories is divided among them.

Choosing the 50 Cities in the Economic Outlook

We started with the three biggest cities as measured by number of listings on Yelp in each of the Census Bureau’s nine U.S. regions in 2017. We then added 23 of the other largest cities in the country. Each city includes businesses within the city’s larger metro area. For 40 of the cities, we use the metro area defined by the Census Bureau’s Metropolitan Statistical Areas. For the other 10, we use Census’s Metropolitan Divisions. We continue to track these 50 cities — the Yelp 50 — each quarter.

Peter Weir, Liina Potter, Travis Brooks, Kathleen Liu, Hannah Cheesman, Jordan Bantista and Brenae Leary contributed to this blog post. Graphics by The DataFace.



Insights and Analysis from Yelp's Data Science Team

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