Best (and Worst) Cities to Find a Job

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The unemployment rate for the country as a whole is at record post-recession lows, coming in under 5 percent for many months. But that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to find a job.

Several factors affect how quickly you can get hired after deciding to make a job change (or having it decided for you, in the form of a layoff or termination). Education, experience and occupational outlook all affect your personal job outlook.

But don’t count out the importance of being in the right geographical place at the right time. Some U.S. cities are better than others when it comes to finding a job.

A recent report from WalletHub ranked the best and worst cities for getting hired in the coming year. The site looked at the 150 most populated cities in the U.S., evaluating them according to 23 different metrics, including job opportunities, employment growth, and median salary.

These are the best and worst cities to find a job right now:

5 Best Cities to Find a Job

1. Scottsdale, AZ

Good weather year round makes Scottsdale a popular tourist destination, so it’s no surprise that Scottsdale boasts a healthy tourism industry, including destination spas and booming nightlife.

Popular Employers: The Vanguard Group, CVS Caremark Corporation, General Dynamics C4 Systems

How Much You Can Earn: Scottsdale Average Salary

2. Plano, TX

Plano has headquarters for several major corporations, including Bank of America Home Loans, Frito-Lay, and Dell.

About 80 percent of the city’s visitors are business travelers.

Popular Employers: Ericsson Inc., Capital One Financial Group, PepsiCo Inc.

How Much You Can Earn: Plano Average Salary

3. Orlando, FL

Manufacturing, aerospace, and Disney all have a home in Orlando, along with a $13.4 billion tech sector.

Popular Employers: Lockheed Martin Corp., The Walt Disney Company, Siemens

How Much You Can Earn: Orlando Average Salary

4. Sioux Falls, SD

Initially rooted in agriculture and quarrying, Sioux Falls has expanded into service-based industries like healthcare and retail.

Popular Employers: Sanford Health, Fiserv Inc., Poet Biorefining

How Much You Can Earn: Sioux Falls Average Salary

5. San Francisco, CA

The epicenter of the tech industry in the U.S., San Francisco boasts some of the highest paying jobs — and highest cost of living — in the country.

Popular Employers: Inc., Google Inc., The Gap Inc.

How Much You Can Earn: San Francisco Average Salary

5 Worst Cities to Find a Job

1. Detroit, MI

The Motor City has had more than its share of economic trouble in the past few decades, thanks to the decline of auto manufacturing in the U.S.

Popular Employers: General Motors Corporation, Quicken Loans, Ford Motor Company

How Much You Can Earn: Detroit Average Salary

2. Fresno, CA

According to a 2015 Business Journal article: “Fresno has one of the highest concentrations of poverty of any city in the U.S., and much of the blight is concentrated in the downtown area.” Still, unemployment has declined in recent years, while the labor force participation rate has picked up.

Popular Employers: Community Regional Medical Center, St. Agnes Medical Center, Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

How Much You Can Earn: Fresno Average Salary

3. Bakersfield, CA

Oil and agriculture dominate Bakersfield’s economy. As green energy sources continue to chip away at fossil fuels’ dominance in the market, Bakersfield may struggle to regain its footing.

Popular Employers: San Joaquin Community Hospital, Dignity Health, Grimmway Farms

How Much You Can Earn: Bakersfield Average Salary

4. Newark, NJ

The manufacturing decline hit Newark hard; in 2016, Forbes reported that the city had lost 10 percent of manufacturing employment since 2010.

Popular Employers: Prudential, Horizon Blue Cross and Blue Shield, New Jersey Institute of Technology

How Much You Can Earn: Newark Average Salary

5. Buffalo, NY

Another victim of the manufacturing bust, Buffalo is one of the poorest American cities of its size (250,000+ residents).

More than 28 percent of residents live below the poverty line.

Popular Employers: M&T Bank Corp, University at Buffalo, HSBC

How Much You Can Earn: Buffalo Average Salary

Consider Your Industry When Making a Move

The best cities for all jobs aren’t necessarily the best cities for your specific occupation. If you’re contemplating a move to seek better opportunities, it pays to understand the market in your field.

"It's clear that opportunity is available in major cities across the country,” says Sam Radbil, Sr. Communications Manager at ABODO. “Whether you're a Millennial looking for your first job after college, or a Baby Boomer starting a new career, it's important to know where to look for the fastest growing jobs in your industry and in your city. From social services to health care, jobs are available if you're looking in the right places. And if you're simply a person looking for a fresh start in a new city, this information could be extremely helpful in your search for your next home."

Radbil says that ABODO’s data show that workers in the PR and communications sector would do well to focus their searches in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Washington D.C., or Seattle. Those outside the PR industry might want to consider them as well, since many crop up on other lists of great places to find work.

Of course, these cities also top lists of most expensive places to live. Cost-of-living, as well as opportunity, has to factor into any workers’ choice of where to move next.

Bottom line: look for an opportunity for your industry, and weigh that against cost-of-living in each location, to make the best choice for your next move. 

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