Best Places in America to Find a Job

Map of the USA

Job seekers often follow the “shiny objects” to Los Angeles, New York or Chicago, but are these places really where the jobs are?

Oh, the contrary: Los Angeles, New York, Chicago or Las Vegas should be warded off. According to the BLS (http://www.bls.gov/news.release/metro.nr0.htm) these cities have experienced the largest over-the-year employment decrease (July 2008-2009). In Los Angeles 240,100 jobs were lost between July 2008 and July 2009; followed by Chicago where 206,200 jobs were lost and New York City at 157,900. Other areas of sizable job losses include Phoenix, Las Vegas and Detroit.

However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Despite a record-breaking national unemployment rates of 9.7 percent (August 2009), there are a few regions in America that show promise with lower jobless rates, moderate job-loss to job-creation ratio, strong commerce and sizable job growth. These cities represent a spectrum of industries, but are primarily dominated by the education, energy, government and health care sectors...areas that have grown against the trends of the dismal economy. In addition, the David and Goliath story proves valid with modern day life… with small boutiques and entrepreneurial start-ups holding up better than big-name companies.

Instead, metropolitan areas such as Washington, D.C., Boston, Baltimore, Salt Lake City, Oklahoma City, Madison, New Orleans and Houston are areas that are thriving against all odds, according to data-driven analysis from U.S. News and World Report, Forbes and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Give these promising cities a gander to start your next career:


ARLINGTON, Va. (http://www.co.arlington.va.us/) WASHINGTON, D.C. (http://www.dc.gov/index.asp)

Unemployment Rate

6.2%

Key Industries

  • government
  • professional associations
  • education

Cushioned by a plethora of government jobs, Washington, D.C. and Arlington, Va. top the list of best cities to find a job. With an unemployment rate of 6.2 percent (BLS-August 2009) (http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/laus.pdf), jobs are constantly reemerging. In fact, according to Indeed.com (http://www.indeed.com/jobtrends/unemployment) the ratio of job postings to unemployed people is 1:1, so jobless individuals have a high likelihood of quickly re-entering the workforce here.

Diversity also makes this capital city impermeable to poor economic conditions. As you would probably deduct, the greater D.C. area is a hotbed for government jobs, especially brimming with job openings courtesy of the Bush and Obama administrations. In addition to government positions, Arlington/Washington D.C. is also home to a cross-section of industries such as: energy, health services, professional associations and education. Fortune 500 companies like Fannie May, Lockheed Martin, Marriott International and U.S. Airways are based here, which also provides a steady job base for this community.



Unemployment Rate

7.2%

Key Industries

  • government
  • energy

Cherry-picking the success of our capitol city is nearby Baltimore. The jobless rate in Baltimore is fairly low in comparison to other East coast cities at 7.2 percent (BLS-August 2009), plus similar to its neighbor, Washington, D.C, jobs are constantly re-emerging. Indeed.com claims that for every job loss in Baltimore, there is one job post. (http://www.indeed.com/jobtrends/unemployment)

Many D.C. commuters call Baltimore home, so it’s obvious why government positions are king in this metropolitan area. The energy industry is also strong here, as Fortune 500 companies Allegheny Energy and Constellation Energy are major employers in the area.



HOUSTON, Tx. (http://www.houstontx.gov/)

Unemployment Rate

8.4%

Key Industries

  • oil
  • energy

“Everything is big in Texas,” right?! Well––not unemployment rates. Across this great state–in Houston, San Antonio and Austin–job loss seems to be at bay and the statewide unemployment rate is almost two percent lower than the national average (http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/laus.pdf) at 8 percent.

Much of Houston’s resilience is attributed the fact that in the city alone, 27 out of 500 of the Fortune 500 (http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune500/2008/states/TX.html) list are based in Houston. ConocoPhillips, Marathon Oil and Plains All American Pipeline are all oil/energy big-wigs that call this area home. With more than 57 Fortune 500 companies in Texas, you really can’t go wrong living and working in this state.



Unemployment Rate

8.4%

Key Industries

  • finance
  • pharmaceuticals/med-tech

Not only is Boston beautiful and rich in history, but studies indicate it is a good place to nestle in to find your next career. Indeed.com reports a job post to unemployed figure of 1:3, which means Bostonian job seekers may not find the competition for jobs as fierce as their East coast neighbors.

Though Boston’s economy is driven largely by its financial sector, the area was not hit as hard by the recent mortgage crisis as New York’s. The city lost fewer than 1,000 financial jobs, whereas New York gave up thousands. Other draws for job seekers are its robust pharmaceutical and med-tech centers, such as Boston Scientific and Genzyme.



NEW ORLEANS/SHREVEPORT, La. (http://www.cityofno.com/)

Unemployment Rate

8.4%

Key Industries

  • entertainment/hospitality
  • oil
  • construction

New Orleans and Shreveport hit their ultimate economic low after Hurricane Katrina hit, but since then the cities have rebuilt their economy to withstand forces of Mother Nature and worldwide economic turmoil. With a 7.4 percent unemployment rate as of July 2009, BLS (http://www.bls.gov/web/laummtrk.htm), Economists from IHS Global predict a quick pickup in this area’s economy and the small amount of commerce that has been affected by the economic downturn will pick up to its precession levels by 2012.

New Orleans and Shreveport host diverse industries from film and entertainment, to energy and construction. After Hurricane Katrina hit, the cities have made strides to not only rebuild its buildings, but also its inner workings––like offering tax breaks for filming and re-building the city government. Leisure and hospitality employment has actually grown in the past 12 months in these areas––with the construction of Shreveport Convention Center and the filming of more than 60 Hollywood flicks.

The New Orleans––Shreveport region also accounts for a significant portion of the nation’s oil refining and petrochemical production. Corporate bases are abundant here with companies such as Energy Oil Co., IBM, AT&T plus thousands of construction, engineering, and high-tech firms––making this area a great place to find employment.



Unemployment Rate

6.1%

Key Industries

  • education
  • entrepreneurial companies
  • research

Madison residents are swimming in job opportunity. Nearly one million job openings are projected in Wisconsin between 2006 and 2016, according to a Department of Workforce Development report (http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-181064106.html). The area has a 6.1 percent unemployment rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/eag/eag.wi_madison_msa.htm), which is a staggering 3.6 percent lower than the national average.

Why is this area deflecting the nation’s economic downturn? Research and education are the backbone of this area, with University of Wisconsin––Madison (http://www.wisc.edu/) and subsidiary research departments such as Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation providing a strong economic base for this capital city community. Adding to the mix is the variety of small and mid-sized companies around Madison (which during a tough economy tend to fair out). With Madison’s robust and diverse economy, highly educated workforce and low cost of living, this area is proven to be a great place to live and work.



SALT LAKE CITY, Ut. (http://www.ci.slc.ut.us/)

Unemployment Rate

6.0%

Key Industries

  • natural resources
  • government

Here, unemployment figures are below 6 percent, making Salt Lake City an ideal place to find a career. A whopping 20 percent of Salt Lake City-area employers expect to add jobs in the fourth quarter of 2009 and jobs in this area are readily available. (http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-120227071.html).

Greater Salt Lake City offers a confluence of industries including: natural resources (copper), tourism and education. With large universities such as Bringham Young University (http://www.byu.edu/webapp/home/index.jsp) and University of Utah (http://www.utah.edu/portal/site/uuhome/); plus the Utah State Government – locals can enjoy a diversity of job options.



OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (http://www.okc.gov/)

Unemployment Rate

5.9%

Key Industries

  • energy
  • leisure/hospitality

Oklahoma City is an ideal area for employment and commerce. With ratio of job postings to unemployed people (Indeed.com) at 1:2 and a meager 5.9 percent unemployment rate (July 2009), (http://www.bls.gov/web/laummtrk.htm) Oklahoma's economy is proven to be steady and strong.

This area’s hardiness are attributed to the success in energy (natural gas and oil) that fortify complimentary industries such as construction and mining. Not interested in blue collar work? Oklahoma City leisure and hospitality jobs did trend up 2 percent from 2007 to 2008 (http://www.forbes.com/2009/04/13/best-big-cities-jobs-opinions-columnists-employment_slide_3.html).


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Allie Gray writes for the Rasmussen College blog. She frequently contributes articles related to business and management, and general interest stories. Allie received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Minnesota.

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