Best & Worst Cities to Work for a Small Business

by John S Kiernan

Wallet Hub 2014 Best Worst-Cities-to-Work For a Small BusinessContinuing WalletHub’s theme of small business-related releases in honor of National Small Business Week (May 12-16), this study sought to identify the cities that are the most and least friendly to employees of small companies.

There is no shortage of commentary on the best and worst cities to start a small business, after all, and with such companies employing about 47% of the private workforce in this country, paying more than 40% of the private payroll, and creating more than 60% of the new jobs added over the past 20 years, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, it bears asking what opportunities exist for the roughly 12.3% of people who are currently either unemployed or marginally attached to the labor force, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

More specifically, WalletHub’s used 10 different metrics – ranging from net small business job growth and industry variety to hours worked and average wages for new hires – to evaluate the state of small business in the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the United States.  We then ranked the cities based on their overall attractiveness for job seekers.

Main Findings

 

Rank Metro Area Rank Metro Area
1 Minneapolis, MN 51 St. Louis, MO
2 Salt Lake City, UT 52 San Jose, CA
3 Miami, FL 53 Ogden, UT
4 Madison, WI 54 New Orleans, LA
5 Oklahoma City, OK 55 Phoenix, AZ
T-6 San Francisco, CA 56 Charleston, SC
T-6 Denver, CO 57 Akron, OH
8 Seattle, WA 58 Cape Coral, FL
9 Dallas, TX 59 Hartford, CT
10 Indianapolis, IN 60 Providence, RI
11 New York, NY 61 Louisville, KY
12 Boston, MA 62 Milwaukee, WI
13 Houston, TX 63 Colorado Springs, CO
14 Omaha, NE 64 Oxnard, CA
15 Nashville, TN 65 Springfield, MA
T-16 Austin, TX 66 Dayton, OH
T-16 Bridgeport, CT 67 Little Rock, AR
18 Los Angeles, CA 68 Baton Rouge, LA
19 Des Moines, IA 69 Greensboro, NC
20 Portland, OR 70 Detroit, MI
21 Tulsa, OK 71 Sacramento, CA
22 Grand Rapids, MI 72 Allentown, PA
23 Columbus, OH 73 Toledo, OH
24 Chicago, IL 74 Poughkeepsie, NY
25 Charlotte, NC 75 Wichita, KS
26 Pittsburgh, PA 76 Las Vegas, NV
27 Richmond, VA 77 Virginia Beach, VA
28 Atlanta, GA 78 Honolulu, HI
29 Raleigh, NC 79 Columbia, SC
30 Kansas City, MO 80 Knoxville, TN
31 North Port, FL 81 Worcester, MA
32 Boise City, ID 82 Birmingham, AL
33 Philadelphia, PA 83 McAllen, TX
34 Baltimore, MD 84 Memphis, TN
35 Greenville, SC 85 Tucson, AZ
36 Orlando, FL 86 Albuquerque, NM
37 Cleveland, OH 87 El Paso, TX
38 Lancaster, PA 88 New Haven, CT
39 Albany, NY 89 Palm Bay, FL
40 Jacksonville, FL 90 Lakeland, FL
41 Provo, UT 91 Youngstown, OH
42 Tampa, FL 92 Fresno, CA
43 Buffalo, NY 93 Riverside, CA
44 Rochester, NY 94 Chattanooga, TN
45 Harrisburg, PA 95 Bakersfield, CA
46 Cincinnati, OH 96 Scranton, PA
47 San Antonio, TX 97 Jackson, MS
T-48 Washington, DC 98 Augusta, GA
T-48 San Diego, CA 99 Modesto, CA
50 Syracuse, NY 100 Stockton, CA

Detailed Findings

Wallet Hub 2014 Best Cities to Work For a Small Business

6 Tips for Landing a Small Business Job

  1. Tailor Your Search, But Avoid Limiting Yourself:  You obviously don’t want to cast too wide of a net, as that will simply increase the odds of missing a job you’d be perfect for as well as limit your ability to pay enough attention to each lead.  However, it’s perhaps equally bad to put yourself in a box in terms of the types of jobs you’re willing to consider, the starting pay you require, and even the city in which you’ll live.  So, try to leave your preconceptions behind and instead focus on the jobs for which your skills are appropriate (rather than what your degree is in), no matter where they may be.
  1. Move Proactively If Necessary:  The entrepreneurs who run successful small businesses (which is where you want to be) are busy folks who garner a lot of interest from local job applicants.  They tend to give these candidates more consideration, as it’s simply easier to interview them and more likely they will accept a job if offered.  So, if you’re not finding the type of job you want where you’re currently living, you should definitely at least consider moving to one of the highest ranked cities in this study.
  1. Focus on the Future:  Job seekers have a tendency to overly emphasize immediate compensation and the sheer availability of a job, any job.  While there is obviously something to be said for being able to pay the bills in the short term, it’s also important to consider opportunities for growth within a given company, the likelihood of said company achieving long-term success, and the potential for skills development that could help you find other work in the future.
  1. Customize Your Approach:  It’s amazing how little care most job applicants put into their search.  Many simply apply en masse, thinking this will give them the greatest odds of finding a job.  In truth, however, they’re severely minimizing their chances of finding the right job.  It’s therefore important to not only customize your cover letter and resume for each position that you have serious interest in, but also to research each respective company as well as its leadership and human resources staff in order to find commonalities and gain a sense of the type of employee their looking for.
  1. Mind Your Online Footprint:  As familiar as we’ve become with the Internet and social media, people still seem to forget that online information is accessible to everyone.  Before applying for any jobs, it’s a good idea to adjust your privacy settings on all social media accounts as well as have explanations ready for any publically available information that might reflect poorly upon you.
  1. Have a Positive Attitude:  Not only is it important to stay positive in the face of rejection, but you also have to remember that employers are looking for people who fit their organizational culture and will be pleasant to work with every day.  What’s more, an eagerness to learn can be enough to get you a serious look for jobs for which you might not have a perfect background.

Ask the experts

  • What are the benefits of working for a small business?
  • What are the risks associated with doing so?
  • How can job seekers identify the right small business job?
  • < >
    • Cary A. Caro Assistant Professor of Business, Xavier University of Louisiana
    • Gregory A. Stone MBA Program Director, School of Business & Leadership, Regent University
    • Bruce Huang Professor of Business Administration, Walden University
    • Leah Hasley Director of the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center, Henderson State University
    • Donald J. Kopka Jr. Assistant Professor of Management, Towson University
    • Robyn Berkley Associate Professor, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, School of Business
    • Patrick Clark Co-Founder & Director of Business Development, Hyrell
    • Daniel J. Grundmann Lecturer, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University
    • S. Scott Ferguson Assistant Professor, SUNY Cobleskill
    • Deitra C. Payne Assistant Professor of Human Resource Management, Limestone College
    • Catherine Schwoerer Associate Professor of Business, University of Kansas
    • Ron Cook Director, Rider Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and Small Business Institute, Rider University
    • Bill Andrews Associate Professor of Business, Stetson University

    Cary A. Caro

    Assistant Professor of Business, Xavier University of Louisiana
    Cary A. Caro
    What are the benefits of working for a small business?

    Biggest benefit is the relationships that you are able to build with your employer. It is easier to establish a level of rapport, trust, and confidence in your abilities when you work with a small business. That can usually lead to more flexibility in work assignments, work conditions, flextime, etc. This can be important to new entrants in the workforce. You can also see quicker decision making, integration of ideas, autonomy, and responsibility for the employee, and greater employee morale.

    What are the risks associated with doing so?

    The risk is that without the backing of a larger corporation, you can often see some of these businesses fail. Also, the opportunity for training, development, and job enrichment may be limited, which can limit your options if you ever leave the small business. The risk of limiting yourself in the future is a real one.

    How can job seekers identify the right small business job?

    Do your research on the history of the business and what their track record is. Do not be afraid to ask questions, flip the script for them..."where do you see me in five years should I take this job." Contact the local Chamber of Commerce or check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any red flags. But the research is most important.

    Gregory A. Stone

    MBA Program Director, School of Business & Leadership, Regent University
    Gregory A. Stone
    What are the benefits of working for a small business?

    Why operate a cog when you can operate the whole machine? Working for a small business let’s one learn the operations from top to bottom, beginning to end. It’s hard to see the entire business operation in a large corporation. Working in a small business provides a person access to every department, and every step of every process in every area of the business—from customer ordering to order fulfillment and everything in between.

    What are the risks associated with doing so?

    There’s no place to hide. You had better be good at what you say you’re good at. Another major perk of trying your hand at new things is the chance to discover your talents, skills, gifts, and those abilities where you shine.

    Part of the risk, however, is in learning that you do or don’t have a talent you thought you had. Working for a small business can more quickly help you ‘find’ yourself. Many people who absolutely love what they do often say, ‘I just fell into it.’ And the odds are that many of them discovered their true talents and passion while working for a small business.

    You have to be responsible when you work in a small business! When you’re responsible for seeing something through from start to finish, you’re more likely to have access to quick feedback. You may even get the authority to make decisions. Good work may get you the credit you have earned. Irresponsible work can get your terminated ten times more quickly.

    How can job seekers identify the right small business job?

    Passion! The type of work one is passionate about should be the driving force for finding the right small business in which to work. And you will most likely find others who share your passion. This can make for a really positive environment in which to work.

    Your exposure to more aspects of the business will likely be greater at a smaller company. Look for a business where you want to learn every operation of the business inside and out. In a small business role, you’ll get the chance to take part in projects that cross over into different areas.

    Finally, you might have the opportunity to make a real difference in the success of the business, since most of the projects you work on, or responsibilities you accept are likely to have the potential to significantly impact a small-scale operation.

    Bruce Huang

    Professor of Business Administration, Walden University
    Bruce Huang
    What are the benefits of working for a small business?

    Growing Up Quickly: If you know exactly what you want to do and what skills you want to develop, then there is no better place than a small business. Small businesses by default operate in a lean environment. The benefit of this lean environment is that it will push you to develop your skills quickly. To further your skills, consider an online degree that can help you build your skills and knowledge; network with other business leaders, small business owners and entrepreneurs from around the world and in different industries; and allow yourself to immediately apply what you learn to your work.

    Making Impact to the Bottom Line: If knowing that what you do from day one has a direct impact to the company's bottom line is important to you, then small business is the place to be. Unlike large corporations, you are most likely to be assigned to real tasks that matter within weeks—if not sooner—from the day you join the small business. The feeling of knowing you made a direct impact to the company's bottom line is awesome.

    Closer Relationship to the Key Decision Maker: It will take years before you get to work with the key decision maker in large corporations; however, you get to be mentored and work closely with the business owner or key decision makers from day one.

    Hands-on Opportunity: Again, due to the lean environment of small business, you are expected to be hands-on quickly. This will improve your skillset and marketability faster than in a large corporation.

    What are the risks associated with doing so?

    Can't Keep Up with the Pace: If you are not a self-starter and a quick learner, it will show immediately in this lean environment. Small businesses do not have or cannot afford to have the patience like a big corporation and you will be quickly phased-out.

    Out-of-Business: Even well-funded startups can quickly run out of money if they don't have a good business model. You may be forced to look for another job sooner than you expected.

    Individual Benefits: Small businesses may not be able to offer health insurance coverage in the scale of a big business. This is the same as vacation time, sick days, maternity or paternity leave, etc. On the other hand, since you are working with key decision makers in the company there may be some flexibility in other benefits such as a flex schedule if you are a shining star.

    How can job seekers identify the right small business job?

    Soul Search as Step Number One: Know what you want and go for it. For example, you want to be a video game programmer. You should then zoom in to the small businesses that are in the video game development industry. When I launched our first preschool, a recently graduated education student emailed me and told me that she had wanted to be a teacher since high school. I hired her.

    Research Small Business Through LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a good source to search and learn about the company, its size, people and job opportunities. Proactively contact the small business and sell yourself even if they don't have an active hiring ad. I hired a new computer science graduate who was my waiter at a restaurant. He contacted me the next day after learning about my business from the casual conversation over dinner.

    Network with Other Employees of the Small Business: Once you select a set of small businesses, then start networking with employees of those companies. Again, LinkedIn is a good resource for that. However, don't just sent an ‘I'd like to connect with you’ canned LinkedIn request. I reject all those types of LinkedIn requests. Be specific and let the person know why you want to network with him or her. Be authentic. They will be good resources for you to learn about opportunities at their companies.

    Leah Hasley

    Director of the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center, Henderson State University
    Leah Hasley
    What are the benefits of working for a small business?

    Let me start by stating that the definition of a small business is 500 employees or less and $5 million in revenues or less. By this definition, approximately 97% of all businesses in Arkansas are small businesses. There is a very strong likelihood that if you work in the State of Arkansas that you will be employed at a small business.

    The benefits for working for a small business vary from business to business. You may choose to work in a business with 5 employees or less or you may work in a business with 450 employees. Advantages will differ across the board as small business owners have some leeway as to benefits they offer.

    What are the risks associated with doing so?

    As far as risks involved, I would say most of the risks are the same as with an industry: change of ownership, downsizing, bad economic times, etc.

    How can job seekers identify the right small business job?

    Identifying the right small business job would start with your personal interests, educational background, work experience, and attitude toward travel and relocation.

    Donald J. Kopka Jr.

    Assistant Professor of Management, Towson University
    Donald J. Kopka Jr.
    What are the benefits of working for a small business?

    • Closeness to owner(s)/manager - may lead to better work relationships

    • Potentially higher levels of responsibility and independent decision making

    • Opportunity to innovate

    • If small business is growing, possibility to share financial returns from increasing value of the business

    • Less bureaucratic restrictions on work

    • Greater flexibility in work scheduling or other work requirements

    • Learn new skills at no cost to self – foundation for future employment at more promising employers

    What are the risks associated with doing so?

    •Closeness to owner(s)/managers – it's their business and they may have authoritarian approach to running it, not allow subordinates freedom of action

    •Lack of human resource safeguards – can be disciplined or fired with no process for appeal

    • Weak financial results for small business makes employment tenuous

    • Low wages and benefits, or no benefits

    • Lack of standard procedures can lead to uncertainty about how to do work

    How can job seekers identify the right small business job?

    • Most importantly, know the industry beforehand and join a small business that is in a growth industry, even if the growth in limited to a local area

    • Talk with employees at a small business to learn about the work environment and the management style of owners and managers – determine it the environment and style are acceptable, if not, go elsewhere

    • Find out how much business/sales the company has – sit outside and observe activity and/or research its performance and prospects in local business media

    • Know their own skills and capabilities and determine whether they are suitable for a particular business

    • Know their wage/salary/benefit requirements beforehand and learn about a small business's wage/salary/benefits to determine if there is a match – do not waste their time or the small business owners/managers time if there is no match, meaning the person wants more than the small business will pay

    Robyn Berkley

    Associate Professor, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, School of Business
    Robyn Berkley
    What are the benefits of working for a small business?

    The benefit of working in a small business is that the hierarchy is looser and you can get lots of experience and exposure to new skills much faster in small business than a large one.

    What are the risks associated with doing so?

    Lower pay and benefits, although with the Affordable Care Act, health care is no longer a risk. Another risk is mobility...while you get exposure to new skills, you may not get the requisite title which could limit mobility upward both in and out of the company!

    How can job seekers identify the right small business job?

    Personal relationships! Look at % of people who stay...do they like the owners...do they like the culture! Is it family owned/operated...would you be one of a few outsiders? If so it might not be a good fit!

    Patrick Clark

    Co-Founder & Director of Business Development, Hyrell
    Patrick Clark
    What are the benefits of working for a small business?

    Growth. Flexibility. Fulfillment. Comradery.

    Often, working for a small business gives you the opportunity to expand your skill set and work experiences at a much faster pace than within a large organization. Within a Small Business, you are given more responsibility and you can have a more direct impact on the company's successes. You will be part of a close-knit team and the sense of us-versus-the-world mentality that can develop within a small team allows you to accomplish things you didn't think were possible.

    What are the risks associated with doing so?

    Stability and salary. Not all small businesses will grow, or be healthy, or survive. And often, a small business can't afford the salary/benefit combination that Big Co. can. So in many cases, working for a small business is far from guaranteed and you won't be able to forecast your career path with as much certainty as prior generations.

    But times have changed and the definition of a 'typical' career path is drastically changing . According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers will spend an average of 4.6 years with their current employer. But for people between the ages of 20-34, the average time is half of that, 2.3 years. So having lots of jobs during the course of your career isn't a stigma, it's now becoming the norm. It's is no longer a Resume Red Flag - it is to be expected.

    So is working for a small business risky? Of course. But with increased risk comes increased reward. You learn more and gather a more diverse set of experiences that you can leverage either with the small business you work for or at your next career stop.

    How can job seekers identify the right small business job?

    Spend the time to figure out what industry you want to be in, or what skill sets you want to develop. When considering a job, ask yourself, 'does this interest me or is it merely a paycheck?'

    There are many, many, many more small business as compared to large businesses. So the career opportunities are out there. But don't jump at the first job that sounds decent. Think through the job, and the industry, to evaluate if it is something that you can see yourself doing for at least a couple of years. You don't want to get out of bed in the morning to dread the next 8-10 hours so it isn't all about Cash. If you can enjoy your job, and grow professionally, you will ultimately reap the benefits on both a personal, and professional, level.

    Daniel J. Grundmann

    Lecturer, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University
    Daniel J. Grundmann
    What are the benefits of working for a small business?

    One of the most critically motivating factors in employment, and a key driver to job satisfaction, is enrichment. Job enrichment refers to an employee's ability to develop skill and ability through increased responsibility and vertical integration in an organization, and includes traditional development opportunities such as formal training. It is often accompanied by greater individual autonomy and leaves workers with an enhanced sense of self-worth and value added. Small businesses frequently, though certainly not always, provide greater opportunity for an enriching environment. Younger and newer employees are more likely to have vertical access in a smaller organization which allows for accelerated development, enhanced career opportunity, and leads to greater job satisfaction.

    What are the risks associated with doing so?

    Small businesses are less likely to have sophisticated Human Resource management systems and staff. This often leads to work environments that are less professional and more poorly managed. Small business also are likely to have workplace culture that is heavily driven by a single personality -- that of the CEO. While that certainly can be positive, it can also be problematic and adds a high degree of potential volatility to the environment.

    How can job seekers identify the right small business job?

    While job seekers typically research company websites, product delivery, and market position; investigating workplace culture and approach to enrichment strategies is rarely undertaken. Job seekers should ask questions about the company's approach to training and development and how work teams are organized. Inquire about the organization's approach to internal communications and decision making strategies. Ask how the organization's compensation and benefits structure supports its culture, mission, and goals. Finally, every job seeker should know thyself. Understand what is important to you in a work environment. Ask questions that help you to ascertain information pertinent to your own priorities.

    S. Scott Ferguson

    Assistant Professor, SUNY Cobleskill
    S. Scott Ferguson
    What are the benefits of working for a small business?

    Benefits of working for a small biz: breadth of experience gained and scope of the work that you are able to do. An employee is able to work on things and contribute to the company in ways they will typically have to wait years in a large company to get the opportunity.

    Additionally, people are generally able to have input to and interaction with the owner of the company/ultimate decision-maker on a regular basis which gives them an opportunity to influence many things beyond their job.

    What are the risks associated with doing so?

    The biggest risks are: potential instability of the company and it not being able to support having long-term full-time employment; no career growth because the company is not big enough; become a jack of all trades and a master or expert of none so you are not experienced enough at any one thing for being marketable in the event you need to be; having a boss that won't let you contribute/give input.

    How can job seekers identify the right small business job?

    It requires some introspection and honesty with yourself (are you going to really be comfortable with being the chief and the trash collector, for example). I also think the candidate needs to have frank conversations with people about what it is like to work for the company/owner - including the owner/boss. You have to feel comfortable enough to have any conversation that might be necessary.

    If you don't fit with the people and organization, then don't take the job because you will be working extremely close with the people, and in small companies it is generally more than a job. If your personality doesn't fit the mold of helping with whatever needs to be done - it is not for you in my opinion.

    Deitra C. Payne

    Assistant Professor of Human Resource Management, Limestone College
    Deitra C. Payne
    What are the benefits of working for a small business?

    Working for a small business may allow employees the opportunity to serve in a variety of roles; thus, enhancing an employee’s skill set. Learning new skills opens the door to more possibilities. Also, working in a small business is an opportunity to get to know employees at all levels in the company.

    I once worked for a small company which afforded me the opportunity to get to know the CEO. The CEO of the company was very personable and stopped by the office of all of the company’s employees each morning to say hello. This is something most likely an employee working in a larger company will not get to experience.

    Additionally, an employee’s successes are more noticeable in a smaller company; however, the downside is that the failures are as well.

    What are the risks associated with doing so?

    Whether you’re working for a small or large business, there is always the potential for risk. For example, if there is an economic downturn both types of businesses could potentially downsize its employees. However, to help mitigate some of the risks of working for any business, it is important to be proactive and to do your research.

    How can job seekers identify the right small business job?

    I believe it’s important to first assess your career goals and to have an understanding of the company you wish to work for, such as the company’s mission and vision. This will help narrow the focus, and it entails being proactive and doing the research.

    Not only is it important for companies to find the right fit, but it’s also important for potential employees to do the same. A plethora of websites exist in which job seekers may learn more about a company. Glassdoor.com is one such website which provides a wealth of information for job seekers. The website consists of company profiles, employee reviews and much more.

    Catherine Schwoerer

    Associate Professor of Business, University of Kansas
    Catherine Schwoerer
    What are the benefits of working for a small business?

    Potential benefits include opportunity to contribute & develop a broad set of skills; provide input etc. In general, one may have the opportunity to take on responsibility earlier.

    How can job seekers identify the right small business job?

    Ramp up all information-seeking and decision-making processes! Plan for disappointment as well as success! Ask how HR is handled and ask about everything you can think of; do independent research. Consider it an adventure; if you can imagine this, perhaps pursue more ‘traditional’ corporate employment.

    Ron Cook

    Director, Rider Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and Small Business Institute, Rider University
    Ron Cook
    What are the benefits of working for a small business?

    1) The opportunity for more responsibility right away as you likely will be in a situation with less layers of bureaucracy.

    2) More flexibility/less structure so you can feel that you are making a difference

    3) Easier to have a sense of belonging/working together in a small business.

    4) You can earn recognition/respect easier as often you are the one who solves a problem vs. being just part of a bigger unit/team.

    What are the risks associated with doing so?

    1) Often have less formal training and are tossed into the mix.

    2) Smaller firms typically have fewer resources so your compensation package may not be as good as a larger firm, and the risk that the firm does not have the resources to weather a storm/downturn can be greater.

    How can job seekers identify the right small business job?

    You can determine if you are more interested in a technical type of work – you may dislike managing others and want to be left alone to complete the task based on your skills;

    Or you can be more like a manager who is interested in planning and preparing the firm for growth on a predictable path;

    Or you can be more of an entrepreneur and looks for new ways to satisfy the customer.

    You can be a combination of these facets, as most are, but usually one type dominates the others and you want to find a job that fits into this mode

    Bill Andrews

    Associate Professor of Business, Stetson University
    Bill Andrews
    What are the benefits of working for a small business?

    Small businesses generally do not have sophisticated training programs or defined career paths - both negatives. This means that one will probably be doing more or less the same thing ‘forever’ in a small business UNLESS the business is growing rapidly. Then, one may have many opportunities to move into new responsibilities as the business expands.

    Small businesses tend to be more vulnerable to revenue pressures, resulting in decreased job security, and wages tend to be lower than in their large-company counterparts.

    One of the great advantages of working for a small company is that there is much less bureaucracy, so there is a greater sense of actually being responsible for the ultimate product or service. This can foster pride in one's work. Many of my MBA students who work for large companies complain of being a cog in a machine.

    Many job -seekers really do not want a career, but more of a ‘job’ that fits into the other dimensions of their life from which they derive their satisfaction and sense of meaning. Such persons would get "evaluated out" of a large organization, but may be a perfect fit for some small business roles.

    Methodology

    WalletHub used the following metrics to evaluate each major metropolitan area’s small business friendliness:

    • Number of Businesses with Under 250 Employees Per 1,000 Inhabitants – (Weight = 1):  The opportunity that job seekers have to find employment with a small business in a particular metropolitan area obviously depends, at least in part, on the sheer number of such business entities in operation there.  The U.S. Small Business Administration defines a “small business” differently depending on the industry, and while the upper limit for certain industries is a private company with 500 employees, Wallet Hub chose to use a smaller number that is more in line with what the average person considers a small business to be.
    • Industry Variety – (Weight = 1):  This metric was used to evaluate the balance of each metropolitan area’s small business community in order to gauge the opportunities available to job seekers irrespective of career focus.  After all, a given city might boast tech jobs aplenty, yet have little to offer folks interested in other fields.
    • Net Small Business Job Growth – (Weight = 1):  This metric was used to indicate whether a given metropolitan area’s small business workforce is expanding or contracting.  While a city with a large number of small business jobs might seem attractive on the surface, new opportunities could be few and far between if that number is consistently dwindling.
    • Small Business Vitality – (Weight = 1):  This index tracks small business job growth relative to workforce and population trends.
    • Average Number of Hours Worked – (Weight = 1):  It’s no secret that small business employees tend to pull long hours, but it’s also important to strike a healthy work-life balance.  So, for this metric, lower numbers of hours worked were viewed favorably.
    • Average Monthly Earnings for New Hires – (Weight = 1):  While there is indeed something to be said for the sheer availability of jobs in this economy, job seekers want to make sure what they make will pay the bills.  This metric was used to rank metropolitan areas based on how much the average new hire earns per month.
    • Unemployment Rate – (Weight = 1):  This metric was used to gauge the competition for available jobs in each metropolitan area.
    • Average Disposable Income – (Weight = 0.5):  This metric shows how much money area workers have to spend after current expenses have been subtracted.
    • Cost of Living – (Weight = 1):  This metric adjusts for regional price and wage differences, enabling direct comparison of how much spending power the average citizen has in each major metropolitan area.
    • Well-Being Index – (Weight = 0.5):  Working for a small business can be very stressful given the often long hours, uncertain future, and pressure of a down economy.  This is only magnified in areas known for their stressful lifestyles, so low scores in this index were viewed favorably for this study.

    Using the most recent data available (see below for sources), we rank-ordered the 100 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) in the United States, as determined by Census Bureau data, for each of the above metrics and then weighted each metric according to the breakdown above to develop the final rankings.

    Sources:  Data used to create these rankings is courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Council for Community & Economic Research, the American City Business Journals and Gallup Healthways.

    Author
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    John Kiernan is Senior Writer & Editor at Evolution Finance. He graduated from the University of Maryland with a BA in Journalism, a minor in Sport Commerce & Culture,…
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