Best & Worst California Cities for Finding a Job
Things are looking good for job seekers in California. This past September, the Golden State added 339,600 new jobs, the third largest increase among thirty-seven states that saw their employment numbers go up. And the state’s come a long way since the financial crisis. California’s unemployment rate peaked at 12.2 percent — the highest point in nearly seven decades and far exceeding the national average of 9.7 percent at the time — but has declined to a healthy 4.1 percent today.
Since that precarious time in its history, California has experienced much growth in the technology sector and other high-wage industries. Altogether, the state boasts a $2.6 trillion economy which is larger than the individual economies of all but five countries.
That bodes well for California wages. Time cites the median household income in California as $64,500 in 2018. Prospective workers nonetheless should balance their job-hunting efforts with cost of living considerations, especially rising housing costs that have made living in the Golden State increasingly unaffordable for low-income earners.
To help California residents and prospective job hunters find the best cities for employment, WalletHub compared 254 cities in the state across 16 key metrics. Our data set ranges from monthly median starting salary to employment growth to housing and transportation costs. You can find the results, a detailed methodology and additional expert commentary below.
Best Cities for Jobs in California
Ask the Experts
According to previously published analyses, particularly high-paying fields — such as information technology, health care and financial services — have fueled much of the job growth and influx of in-movers to California in recent years. Although this trend has translated to higher median wages for workers, it also has inflated cost of living for less-educated and lower income-earning individuals in the state.
For additional insight, we asked a panel of experts to weigh in on the employment future of California, the challenges that job seekers face and the policies that help to level the playing field for disadvantaged workers. Click on the experts’ profiles below to read their bios and thoughts on the following key questions:
- Will the information-technology industry still play a major role in California’s economy in the coming decades? What other fields are expected to grow the most in the near future?
- Which are the biggest challenges faced by California’s job seekers today?
- Looking just within California, what are the most common mistakes job seekers make when seeking employment?
- What types of programs have proven effective in helping unemployed persons find work in California?
- Should benefits be extended in California for unemployed people who have been out of work for a long period?
- Should unemployed people from California who receive local and state assistance be required to meet certain prerequisites or fulfill certain obligations in order to earn their unemployment benefits? If so, what?
In order to identify the best California cities for finding employment, WalletHub compared 254 cities in the state across two key dimensions, “Job Market” and “Socio-economics.” For our sample, we chose each city according to the size of its population. Please note that “city” refers to city proper and excludes surrounding metro areas.
Next, we compiled 16 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights.
To obtain the final rankings, we attributed a score between 0 and 100 to each metric. We then calculated the weighted sum of the scores and used the overall result to rank the cities. Together, the points attributed to the two major dimensions add up to 100 points.
Job Market - Total Points: 67
- Job Opportunities: Double Weight (~14.89 Points)
Note: This metric was calculated as follows: Number of Job Openings per Number of Population in Labor Force Minus Unemployment Rate.
- Employment Growth: Full Weight (~7.44 Points)
Note: This metric measures the rate of annual job growth adjusted by the working-age population growth.
- Monthly Average Starting Salary: Full Weight (~7.44 Points)
Note: This metric was adjusted for the cost of living.
- Unemployment Rate for High School Graduates: Full Weight (~7.44 Points)
- Unemployment Rate for Residents with a Bachelor's Degree or Higher: Full Weight (~7.44 Points)
- Industry Variety: Full Weight (~7.44 Points)
- Full-Time Employment: Half Weight (~3.72 Points)
Note: This metric measures the number of part-time employees for every 100 full-time employees.
- Share of Workers in Poverty: Full Weight (~7.44 Points)
Note: This metric measures the percentage of employed residents whose incomes are below the poverty line.
- Disability-Friendliness of Employers: Half Weight (~3.72 Points)
Note: This metric measures the percentage of persons with disabilities who are employed.
Socioeconomic Environment - Total Points: 33
- Median Annual Income: Full Weight (~5.50 Points)
Note: This metric was adjusted for the cost of living.
- Average Work & Commute Time: Half Weight (~2.75 Points)
Note: This metric measures the average length of a workday and the average commute time.
- Access to Employee Benefits: Half Weight (~2.75 Points)
Note: This metric measures the share of employees with private health insurance.
- Housing Costs: Full Weight (~5.50 Points)
Note: This composite metric comprises the following calculations: Median Home Price / Median Annual Household Income and Median Annual Rent Price / Median Annual Household Income.
- Annual Transportation Costs: Full Weight (~5.50 Points)
Note: This metric was adjusted for the median household income.
- Safety: Full Weight (~5.50 Points)
Note: This metric measures the crime rate.
- Social Life: Full Weight (~5.50 Points)
Note: This metric comprises the number of cafés per square root of population plus number of nightlife options per square root of population.
Sources: Data used to create these rankings were obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Center for Neighborhood Technology, Council for Community and Economic Research, Indeed and Yelp.
Image: David Carillet / Shutterstock.com
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