With 2020 behind us, it’s time to think about fresh starts, whether that means small changes or a complete life overhaul. For many people, finding a new or better job will be a top resolution.
The jobs market took a huge hit in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. At one point, the unemployment rate reached a staggering 14.7%, but it has been steadily recovering. According to the most recent jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate is 6.7%, which still leaves plenty of Americans looking for jobs.
College graduates from the class of 2021 shouldn’t expect to see a boost in hiring compared to the class of 2020, but they also won’t experience much of a decrease either, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. NACE characterizes the outlook for college students as “more positive than expected,” given the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ultimately, your luck of finding work depends largely on location. To help you with the job hunt, WalletHub compared more than 180 U.S. cities across 32 key indicators of job-market strength. They range from job opportunities to employment growth to monthly average starting salary.
Best Places to Find a Job
|Overall Rank||City||Total Score||‘Job Market’||‘Socio-economics’|
|1||South Burlington, VT||66.53||3||2|
|3||Virginia Beach, VA||63.64||8||5|
|4||Salt Lake City, UT||63.57||1||41|
|9||Colorado Springs, CO||60.73||7||53|
|15||San Francisco, CA||60.14||38||6|
|20||Overland Park, KS||58.91||26||30|
|24||West Valley City, UT||58.55||16||59|
|26||Des Moines, IA||58.31||15||68|
|35||San Jose, CA||57.83||42||27|
|37||San Diego, CA||57.64||55||15|
|38||Pearl City, HI||57.55||76||10|
|39||Newport News, VA||57.48||36||45|
|42||Cedar Rapids, IA||57.17||25||72|
|43||St. Louis, MO||56.78||23||107|
|48||Sioux Falls, SD||55.66||37||88|
|51||St. Petersburg, FL||55.60||51||58|
|58||Rancho Cucamonga, CA||54.95||54||74|
|61||Kansas City, MO||54.64||78||44|
|65||Santa Rosa, CA||54.41||85||38|
|69||Grand Prairie, TX||54.07||63||98|
|78||Jersey City, NJ||52.99||57||135|
|87||Port St. Lucie, FL||52.40||80||105|
|90||Huntington Beach, CA||52.05||115||26|
|93||Grand Rapids, MI||51.83||100||62|
|94||Little Rock, AR||51.82||67||156|
|99||Oklahoma City, OK||51.15||107||71|
|100||Fort Worth, TX||51.05||103||81|
|101||Cape Coral, FL||51.04||101||89|
|106||St. Paul, MN||50.35||112||84|
|108||Chula Vista, CA||50.30||118||56|
|110||San Antonio, TX||50.17||111||97|
|114||Rapid City, SD||49.93||113||90|
|127||Santa Ana, CA||46.94||146||73|
|128||Garden Grove, CA||46.92||162||37|
|131||Pembroke Pines, FL||46.62||132||136|
|132||Fort Smith, AR||46.51||116||169|
|136||Fort Wayne, IN||46.38||122||154|
|140||Corpus Christi, TX||46.09||121||160|
|143||Moreno Valley, CA||45.52||139||148|
|145||Fort Lauderdale, FL||45.33||147||134|
|151||El Paso, TX||44.66||145||150|
|155||Baton Rouge, LA||44.33||144||158|
|160||New York, NY||43.70||159||144|
|162||Las Vegas, NV||43.59||167||94|
|164||New Orleans, LA||43.07||154||168|
|166||Long Beach, CA||42.94||166||138|
|167||Santa Clarita, CA||42.84||175||103|
|169||Los Angeles, CA||42.62||169||117|
|172||San Bernardino, CA||42.00||161||170|
|173||New Haven, CT||41.48||174||149|
|177||Las Cruces, NM||40.15||178||153|
|178||North Las Vegas, NV||39.85||182||147|
Note: With the exception of “Total Score,” all of the columns in the table above depict the relative rank of that city, where a rank of 1 represents the best conditions for that metric category.
Ask the Experts
The job-hunting process can still be scary, especially during the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic. To ease the burden on job seekers, we asked a panel of experts to share their thoughts on the following key questions:
- What is your prediction for the job market in 2021? Do you think the unemployment rate will come close to the pre-pandemic 3.5%?
- What impact will the future Biden administration’s policies have on job growth?
- Which fields are expected to grow the most in the coming years?
- Recent evidence suggests fewer people are moving across state lines in search for work. Why do you think this is, and what can be done to increase geographic mobility?
- What are the most common mistakes job seekers make when seeking employment?
- What types of programs have proven effective in helping unemployed individuals find work?
- Should unemployed people be required to do something in order to earn their unemployment benefits? If so, what?
Ask the Experts
In order to determine the best job markets in the U.S., WalletHub compared 182 cities — including the 150 most populated U.S. cities, plus at least two of the most populated cities in each state — across two key dimensions, “Job Market” and “Socio-economics.” We assigned a heavier weight to the former, considering the fact that factors in that category most heavily influence a job seeker’s decision in terms of relocation for employment.
We then evaluated the two dimensions using 32 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most favorable conditions for job seekers. Data for metrics marked with an asterisk (*) were available at state level only.
Finally, we determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample. In determining our sample, we considered only the city proper in each case, excluding cities in the surrounding metro area.
Job Market – Total Points: 80
- Job Opportunities: Double Weight (~6.81 Points)
Note: This metric was calculated as follows: Number of Job Openings per Number of Population in Labor Force Minus Unemployment Rate.
- Employment Growth: Double Weight (~6.81 Points)
Note: This metric measures the rate of annual job growth adjusted by the working-age population growth.
- Monthly Average Starting Salary: Full Weight (~3.40 Points)
- Unemployment Rate: Double Weight (~6.81 Points)
- Underemployment Rate: Full Weight (~3.40 Points)
- Industry Variety: Full Weight (~3.40 Points)
- Employment Outlook: Double Weight (~6.81 Points)
Note: This metric is based on the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey.
- Automation Risk: Full Weight (~3.40 Points)
Note: This metric measures the share of jobs at risk for automation.
- Job Security: Full Weight (~3.40 Points)
Note: This metric was calculated as follows: (Number of Employees in 2019 – Number of Employees in 2018) / Number of Employees in 2018.
- Job Satisfaction: Full Weight (~3.40 Points)
- Share of Engaged Workers*: Full Weight (~3.40 Points)
Note: This metric is based on Gallup’s “State of the American Workplace” report. Gallup defines engaged employees as those who are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace.
- Retirement Access & Participation: Full Weight (~3.40 Points)
Note: This metric considers only employer-based retirement plans.
- Access to Employee Benefits: Full Weight (~3.40 Points)
Note: This metric measures the share of employees with private health insurance.
- Presence of Work-Share Programs*: Half Weight (~1.70 Points)
Note: This binary metric measures the presence or absence of state programs that allow employers to temporarily reduce work hours of employees instead of laying them off during economic downturns.
- State’s Statute on Hiring Based on Salary History*: Half Weight (~1.70 Points)
Note: This metric measures the presence or absence of salary history bans in a state.
- Full-Time Employment: Full Weight (~3.40 Points)
Note: This metric measures the number of part-time employees for every 100 full-time employees.
- 4+ Star Job Opportunities per Total People in Labor Force: Full Weight (~3.40 Points)
Note: This metric measures the number of job opportunities at 4+ star rated companies on Glasssdoor.com per the total people in the labor force.
- Apprentice-Trainee Jobs as Share of Total Jobs Posted on Glassdoor.com: Half Weight (~1.70 Points)
Note: Apprentice-trainee jobs refers to on-the-job training.
- Share of Workers in Poverty: Double Weight (~6.81 Points)
Note: This metric measures the share of employed residents whose incomes are below the poverty line.
- Disability-Friendliness of Employers: Full Weight (~3.40 Points)
Note: This metric measures the share of persons with disabilities who are employed.
Socio-economics – Total Points: 20
- Median Annual Income: Full Weight (~1.43 Points)
Note: This metric was adjusted for the cost of living.
- Average Work & Commute Time: Full Weight (~1.43 Points)
Note: This metric measures the average length of a workday and the average commute time.
- Transit Accessibility of Workplace: Full Weight (~1.43 Points)
Note: This metric measures the number of jobs accessible by a 30-minute transit ride per total civilian workforce.
- Transit Score: Full Weight (~1.43 Points)
Note: Transit Score is a patented measure of how well a location is served by public transit.
- Housing Affordability: Full Weight (~1.43 Points)
Note: This metric was calculated as follows: Housing Costs (accounts for both rental and sale prices) / Median Annual Household Income.
- Annual Transportation Costs: Full Weight (~1.43 Points)
- Average COVID-19 Cases per Capita: Double Weight (~2.86 Points)
- Average COVID-19 Deaths per Capita: Double Weight (~2.86 Points)
- Safety: Full Weight (~1.43 Points)
Note: This metric measures the crime rate.
- Family-Friendliness: Full Weight (~1.43 Points)
Note: This metric is based on WalletHub’s “Best & Worst Places to Raise a Family” ranking.
- Dating-Friendliness: Full Weight (~1.43 Points)
Note: This metric is based on WalletHub’s “Best & Worst Cities for Singles” ranking.
- Recreation-Friendliness: Full Weight (~1.43 Points)
Note: This metric is based on WalletHub’s “Best & Worst Cities for Recreation” ranking.
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development, Council for Community and Economic Research, Indeed, Center for Neighborhood Technology, The Pew Charitable Trusts, National Conference of State Legislatures, Glassdoor, ManpowerGroup, Chmura Economics & Analytics, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, Gallup-Sharecare, Industry Dive, Walk Score, The New York Times and WalletHub research.