Summer isn’t just a season of relaxing and planning vacations. For some people, especially young adults, the warmer months are a time to gain extra spending money or work experience. With states continuing to relax their COVID-19 restrictions as a growing number of Americans get vaccinated, people can find summer jobs in industries that are returning to full capacity, like dining, entertainment and tourism.
But where you look for a summer job will matter almost as much as what you do. Naturally, opportunities will be more widely available in some places than in others, and while a job may pay well in one city, the same position may not pay as much in another. Minimum-wage laws and local costs, for instance, will determine how much you earn and consequently what you’ll be able to afford in terms of housing, transportation and social activities. More importantly, if you’re supporting yourself, location will dictate how much of your income you’ll be able to save, if that’s your goal.
With summer-job seekers in mind, WalletHub compared the relative strength of more than 180 markets in the U.S. across 23 key indicators of employment outlook, affordability and downtime-friendliness. Our data set ranges from the median income of part-time workers to the availability of summer jobs to COVID-19 cases.
Best Places to Get a Summer Job
Youth Job Market
Social Environment & Affordability
|5||Salt Lake City, UT||62.80||7||41|
|6||Overland Park, KS||60.08||11||18|
|13||West Valley City, UT||58.28||10||98|
|14||South Burlington, VT||58.12||21||16|
|16||Rapid City, SD||57.90||20||21|
|24||St. Paul, MN||56.68||16||100|
|25||St. Louis, MO||56.50||22||58|
|27||Sioux Falls, SD||55.93||28||38|
|32||Little Rock, AR||55.27||35||35|
|35||Grand Rapids, MI||54.11||25||135|
|37||Kansas City, MO||53.77||52||32|
|43||Virginia Beach, VA||53.33||53||50|
|46||Pearl City, HI||53.10||62||45|
|48||Fort Smith, AR||52.83||45||110|
|50||Des Moines, IA||52.31||61||61|
|53||Fort Wayne, IN||52.06||41||137|
|54||Colorado Springs, CO||52.05||39||144|
|56||Oklahoma City, OK||51.96||58||82|
|58||Huntington Beach, CA||51.72||81||17|
|68||Grand Prairie, TX||50.93||47||161|
|69||Cedar Rapids, IA||50.86||79||54|
|74||San Antonio, TX||50.29||87||60|
|86||St. Petersburg, FL||49.37||86||92|
|88||Garden Grove, CA||49.00||110||25|
|89||Fort Lauderdale, FL||48.90||83||118|
|106||Rancho Cucamonga, CA||47.33||108||96|
|111||Fort Worth, TX||46.92||104||123|
|112||New Haven, CT||46.81||112||114|
|115||Newport News, VA||46.75||106||124|
|121||San Francisco, CA||45.81||170||1|
|127||El Paso, TX||45.52||113||150|
|130||Las Cruces, NM||44.94||127||142|
|132||Santa Rosa, CA||44.82||147||27|
|136||Cape Coral, FL||44.46||119||165|
|139||San Diego, CA||44.06||164||7|
|140||Port St. Lucie, FL||43.94||109||172|
|146||Corpus Christi, TX||42.74||120||173|
|148||San Jose, CA||42.62||157||66|
|151||Las Vegas, NV||42.31||166||30|
|156||Chula Vista, CA||42.01||152||109|
|158||Santa Ana, CA||41.79||156||99|
|159||Moreno Valley, CA||41.72||153||103|
|161||San Bernardino, CA||40.70||148||163|
|162||New Orleans, LA||40.63||172||43|
|165||Jersey City, NJ||40.13||165||119|
|169||Baton Rouge, LA||39.34||161||158|
|174||Pembroke Pines, FL||36.85||154||180|
|175||Los Angeles, CA||36.51||181||14|
|176||Long Beach, CA||35.97||180||64|
|179||North Las Vegas, NV||35.14||177||152|
|180||Santa Clarita, CA||34.50||178||130|
|182||New York, NY||28.39||182||102|
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
As with searching for permanent employment, finding part-time, seasonal or temporary work can be challenging. For advice on overcoming those obstacles, we asked a panel of experts to answer the following key questions:
- What tips do you have for a young person searching for a summer job or internship during the pandemic?
- What types of summer jobs or internships will best equip young people with the skills and experiences they need to secure a full-time career after graduation?
- What are the most common mistakes young people make when taking a summer job or internship?
- How can local authorities encourage companies to provide summer jobs or internships for young people? Should the government subsidize the cost of summer employment for young people?
- In evaluating the best cities for summer jobs, what are the top five indicators?
- Will a faster rollout of the vaccine help the rebound of the labor market, and thus help summer employment?
Ask the Experts
In order to determine the best cities for summer jobs, 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, “Youth Job Market” and “Social Environment & Affordability.” Our sample considers only the city proper in each case and excludes cities in the surrounding metro area.
We evaluated the two dimensions using 23 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 individuals seeking summer work.
We then determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample.
Youth Job Market – Total Points: 75
- Availability of Summer Jobs: Full Weight (~5.36 Points)
Note: This metric measures the number of part-time and temporary jobs per total civilian population aged 16 to 24 in the labor force.
- Availability of Internships: Double Weight (~10.71 Points)
Note: This metric measures the number of internship listings per total civilian population aged 16 to 24 in the labor force.
- Summer Employment Growth: Double Weight (~10.71 Points)
Note: This metric measures the change in employment during summer 2020 and during summer 2019.
- Summer Employment Bump: Double Weight (~10.71 Points)
Note: This metric measures the difference in employment during summer versus year-round. A higher difference favors summer employment.
- Labor-Force Participation Rate of Population Aged 16 to 24: Full Weight (~5.36 Points)
- Unemployment Rate of Population Aged 16 to 24: Full Weight (~5.36 Points)
- Underemployment Rate: Full Weight (~5.36 Points)
- Net Employment Outlook: Full Weight (~5.36 Points)
Note: This metric measures the percentage of employers who expect to add employees minus the percentage who expect to have fewer, according to the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey.
- Ratio of Part-Time Workers to Full-Time Workers: Full Weight (~5.36 Points)
Note: This metric measures the number of part-time employees per 100 full-time employees.
- Median Income of Part-Time Workers: Full Weight (~5.36 Points)
Note: This metric was adjusted for the cost of living.
- Share of Insured Part-Time Workers: Full Weight (~5.36 Points)
Note: “Insured” refers to those with health-insurance coverage.
Social Environment & Affordability – Total Points: 25
- Share of Population Aged 16 to 24: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
- Share of Population Aged 16 to 24 in Poverty: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
- Minimum Wage: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
Note: Data for this metric were available at the state level only.
- Rental Price as Share of Median Income: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
Note: This metric measures the rental price for a one-bedroom property as a share of the median income of part-time workers.
- Access to Public Transportation: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
Note: This metric measures the percentage of commuters who use public transit.
- Commuter-Friendliness of Jobs: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
Note: This metric measures the number of jobs accessible by a 30-minute transit ride per total civilian employed population.
- Annual Costs of Public Transportation Pass for Part-Time Workers: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
Note: This metric measures annual costs of public transportation pass as a share of the median income of part-time workers.
- Fun-Friendliness: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
Note: This metric is based on WalletHub’s “Most Fun Cities in America” ranking.
- Active-Lifestyle-Friendliness: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
Note: This metric is based on WalletHub’s “Best & Worst Cities for an Active Lifestyle” ranking.
- Singles-Friendliness: Full Weight (~1.79 Points)
Note: This metric is based on WalletHub’s “Best & Worst Cities for Singles” ranking.
- Average Daily COVID-19 Deaths in the Past Week per Capita: Double Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Average Daily COVID-19 Cases in the Past Week per Capita: Double Weight (~3.57 Points)
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, ManpowerGroup, Chmura Economics & Analytics, Council for Community and Economic Research, Indeed.com, Internships.com, Department of Housing and Urban Development, National Conference of State Legislatures, Numbeo, Center for Neighborhood Technology, The New York Times and WalletHub research.