1. Are jobs available?
We looked at the metro area’s unemployment rate to determine job availability. A low unemployment rate led to a higher overall score.
2. Is the city growing?
We assessed population growth to ensure that the city is attracting workers and exhibiting a trend of upward growth. High population growth led to a higher overall score.
3. Can you afford to live there?
We looked at the median income and the monthly costs of homeowners to assess whether residents could live comfortably in the area. We used monthly homeowner costs to proxy cost of living. Cities with high median incomes and a low cost of living scored higher.
For more information, check out our cost of living calculator here.
The Best Cities for Job Seekers 1. Austin, Texas
Austin is experiencing tremendous growth—the city has the highest working age population growth of the featured cities on our list. A burgeoning technology hub, the major employers in the area include Dell and IBM, and these companies employ over 6,000 people each. Austin has plenty of resources for job seekers and working professionals, and a good local resource for networking is the Bronze Pages guide. There is a chapter of the American Society for Training & Development in the city, which provides professionals with workshops, study groups, and networking opportunities to help further their careers.
2. Washington, District of Columbia
The nation’s capital sits on the Potomac River between Maryland and Virginia. Washington D.C. had a 4.6 percent growth rate from 2010 to 2012, and has one of the higher median incomes for workers at $45,151 a year. Known for the government sector, D.C. also has thriving education and healthcare industries. The two largest employers are Georgetown University and George Washington University with two health care facilities, Washington Hospital Center and the National Children’s Hospital, coming in behind them. Fannie Mae has their corporate headquarters here, and they are a major corporation in the financial services industry dealing with mortgage-backed securities. Those looking for help in their job search can reach out to Project Empowerment, a job training program that helps district residents with subsidized employment while working with them to secure permanent non-subsidized employment. Students at Georgetown University have access to the Cawley Career Education Center, which can assist with career planning and networking.
3. Fort Worth, Texas
Located just over 30 miles west of Dallas, Fort Worth was originally established as a fort to defend settlers after the Mexican American War. Now, the city’s main industries are the government sector and manufacturing, but the area retains its western spirit and culture. The largest employers are American Airlines and Lockheed Martin, and Lockheed Martin Aeronautics’ production plant makes the F-35 Lightning II and F-16 Fighting Falcon. For job seekers, the Dallas/Fort Worth area has many organizations that provide useful career training, such as the CCI Training Center.
4. Denver, Colorado
Just east of the Rocky Mountains, the Mile High city’s main industries include aerospace and manufacturing. Two of the major employers in the area are Ball Corporation and Lockheed Martin. The Denver Chamber of Commerce helps young people network and get involved in the community with The Denver Metro Chamber Young Professionals Group, while the nonprofit association SCORE Denver provides low-cost services to help entrepreneurs and small businesses succeed in the area. The University of Colorado Denver has a substantial career services department that even offers a Certificate of Employability to help students find employment in a competitive job market.
5. Charlotte, North Carolina
Charlotte lies on the southwestern border between North Carolina and South Carolina, and is a major financial center in the country. It has a diverse economy, with the largest employers ranging from manufacturing to financial services. Bank of America has its worldwide headquarters in town, and Wells Fargo has its east coast division headquarters in the One Wells Fargo Center skyscraper in downtown Charlotte. The University of North Carolina at Charlotte offers multiple services and events for students such as career expos, job fairs, and counseling. Charlotte has a thriving arts community as well, and the Arts and Science Council offers many workshops to foster the professional development of creative individuals.
6. Raleigh, North Carolina
The capital of North Carolina is located in the heart of the state, and is known for its research and development industry. This is largely due to Research Triangle Park, a hub for tech companies that contains some of the largest employers in the area. The well-known software company IBM is a major employer for the area and can be found in Research Triangle Park. The career development center at North Carolina State University provides assistance to students looking to enter the job market with access to internship postings, information sessions, and career fairs. The Center for Employment Training, located in nearby Durham, provides hands-on training for vocational skills.
7. Omaha, Nebraska
Omaha has been enjoying a low unemployment rate. Four of the top ten major employers in the city are in the health care industry, including Alegent Creighton Health and Methodist Health System. First Data Corporation is in the data processing industry, employing thousands of people who live in the area. Job seekers can look for training through the Nebraska Department of Labor, which offers a searchable training provider index. This is a useful resource for professionals who want further their educations in their trade. The University of Nebraska Omaha has an Academic and Career Development Center, and their popular Career Coach program uses local data, such as information on training and wages, to help students find a good career path.
8. Minneapolis, Minnesota
Known as the City of Lakes, Minneapolis has over twenty lakes and wetlands. The city’s diverse economy is based on commerce, finance, healthcare and trucking. Some of the largest employers include Target, the University of Minnesota and Wells Fargo. Minneapolis offers plenty of culture as well—the city has a thriving theater scene and several film and arts centers, and the city hosts the Minnesota Fringe Festival, one of the largest performing arts festivals in the United States. Minneapolis is one of the best cities for recreation, and hockey fans have plenty to cheer for here as well. The University of Minnesota has a campus in Minneapolis, and they offer programs that enrich the public, such as a yearly Women’s Leadership Conference.
9. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Oklahoma City is located right in the center of the state.. The energy industry has a strong presence in the area and major employers include Two Fortune 500 energy companies, Chesapeake Energy Corporation and Devon Energy Corporation. The arts and crafts supplier Hobby Lobby has their corporate headquarters in the city. The Professional Development Institute at Oklahoma City Community College offers flexible adult education and training programs with the only state-certified compressed natural gas (CNG) technician program in the city. Interfaith nonprofit The Education and Employment Ministry offers job training and placement assistance for adults in the city.
10. San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio is known for its River Walk along the San Antonio River, which takes visitors through downtown on a vibrant waterway lined with shops and restaurants. Technology and energy are growing industries in the city, partially due to Southwest Research Institute and Valero Energy, two major employers in the city. The financial services industry is strong as well as the United Services Automobile Association (USAA) is headquartered in San Antonio. PROJECT Quest is an award winning local workforce training and development program that has a 90 percent job placement and retention rate for graduates. The University of Texas at San Antonio has a career center that provides students and alumni with resources, such as a virtual library of guidance materials and connections to local businesses.