The 9 best U.S. cities for jobs
Americans are known for picking up and moving to big cities in search of better opportunities. Today, however, some of the best employment opportunities around the U.S. can be found in the country's smaller cities.
What makes a city a good location for job seekers? It's a combination of how easy it is to find a job, how affordable the location is, and how satisfied workers are at their employers, according to a new study from employment site Glassdoor. The cities tend to break down into two types: midsized, fast-growing tech magnets, and former industrial cities that have transformed into service economies, said Glassdoor economist Andrew Chamberlain.
"What I think is so fascinating about this report is peoples' perceptions about what's a good place to live and work haven't kept up with the huge changes we've seen in the U.S. in the last 15 to 20 years," Chamberlain said. "A lot of midsized cities offer good economic value, but they still have branding problems."
Job-related issues, such as looking for new employment, prompted almost 20 percent of the 35.9 million moves by Americans from 2012 to 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. For Americans considering job hunting in a new city, data on job and affordability trends can help raise awareness of opportunities in cities beyond the biggest urban hubs, which aren't necessarily the most vibrant labor markets.
So why didn't the country's biggest cities, including Los Angeles and New York, make the cut? While incomes tend to be higher in such cities, the cost of living has skyrocketed at a far faster pace, making affordability a problem for many residents and job-seekers.
Read on to learn about the country's 9 best cities for jobs.
9. San Antonio, Texas
This city of 2.3 million residents made Glassdoor's list thanks to a successful transition to a service and tech economy, with major industries including health care, information technology and renewable energy.
San Antonio currently lists nearly 30,000 job openings, with a median base salary of $40,000. While that income is lower than some other cities on the list, San Antonio also offers a more affordable cost of living. The median home value, for instance, is $147,600, compared with $728,000 for San Francisco.
Current job openings in San Antonio include titles such as IT help desk technician, system analyst and financial advisor, illustrating the types of industries now thriving in the Texas city.
8. Louisville, Kentucky
The largest city in Kentucky offers an affordable way of life, as well as big employers such as Yum! Brands, the owner of KFC and Taco Bell, and health insurance company Humana.
Once an industrial city, Louisville has transformed into a town focused on services such as health care and restaurants.
The city currently has more than 16,000 job openings, with a median base salary of $40,000. That's on the lower end of salaries for metro areas on the list, but the cost of living in Louisville is also lower, with the median home value at $131,100. The Greater Louisville Chamber of Commerce notes that one of the benefits offered by this city is its "very attractive cost of living."
Current job openings on Glassdoor include titles such as director of global e-commerce at Brown-Forman, the maker of liquors such as Jack Daniel's, and operation support group technician at UPS.
7. San Jose, California
This city of almost 2 million residents sits at the heart of Silicon Valley. No surprise that it has more than 51,000 job openings and offers a high median base salary, at $99,000.
That helped get the city on the list, although job seekers will soon realize that those strong points come with a high cost of living, given San Jose's median home value of $863,800.
"It has a tornado of hiring activity, and it has high job satisfaction," Glassdoor's Chamberlain said. "Different people want different things from cities. If you are a young person starting out, you might not want to buy a home, and you might be OK with sharing an apartment."
6. Salt Lake City, Utah
The biggest city in Utah is home to a number of large companies, including Zions Bank and Questar, but it also has developed into something of a tech hub, with firms such as Adobe and eBay operating offices in the area.
The city now has nearly 18,000 job openings, with a median base salary of $44,000. For a town that offers many tech-related job opportunities, the cost of living is much lower than cities such as San Jose. Salt Lake City's median home value is $224,000, compared with $863,800 for San Jose.
Current job openings include senior Oracle DBA at Overstock.com and investment consultant at Fidelity Investments.
5. Seattle, Washington
The home of Amazon.com and Starbucks makes the cut because of its roughly 69,000 job openings, which offer a median base salary of $70,000.
While that salary is higher than some other cities on the list, Seattle also has a higher cost of living, given that the city's median home value is $344,700.
Current job openings in the city of 3.7 million residents include network engineer II at Synchronoss and game builder at mobile game developer WildTangent.
4. Austin, Texas
The capital of Texas has a similar tech-focused economy as Seattle, yet the cost of living is lower, according to Glassdoor.
Austin has more than 33,000 job openings at the moment, with a median base salary of $50,000. The median home value is $226,400. "The cost of living has risen, but it's still very reasonable compared with Seattle," Chamberlain said.
Current job openings include software engineer at vacation rental site Homeaway and .NET technical lead at Blizzard, which creates games such as World of Warcraft.
3. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
This city of 1.3 million people now has nearly 17,000 job openings, with a median base salary of $38,100.
The salaries might be lower than in other cities, but so is the cost of living, since the median home value is $129,400. According to the Greater Oklahoma City Partnership, the city's affordability is a key draw, helping it attract millennials and other Americans seeking more value for their money.
While the city was once dominated by the oil and gas industries, it has diversified in recent years, Chamberlain said. Oklahoma City has fewer job openings than other cities, but it landed near the top of the list because of its large number of stable middle-class jobs and affordable homes, he added.
Current job openings include manufacturing engineer assembly at Boeing and CRG reserves coordinator at Marathon Oil.
2. Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City was once dominated by stockyards and shipping, but has transformed into a city where service industries are thriving. The city of 2.1 million residents was also picked by Google to test Google Fiber, its ultra-high-speed Internet experiment.
The city has some 29,000 job openings, which offer a median base salary of $46,000. Kansas City is also an affordable place to live, with a median home value of $138,500.
Current job openings include investment consultant at Scottrade and software engineer at the Nerdery, a custom software company.
1. Raleigh, North Carolina
This city of 1.2 million residents sits in the sweet spot of good job opportunities, affordability and job satisfaction, according to Glassdoor.
Raleigh has more than 24,000 job openings, with a median base salary of $50,950. The median home value stands at $198,400.
The city benefits from its location in the so-called Research Triangle, home to Duke University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University. With hundreds of restaurants, numerous parks and good schools, Raleigh often tops lists of best places to live.
In terms of jobs, top employers in the region include IBM, WakeMed Health & Hospitals and Cisco Systems. Current job openings include Web developer at Credit Suisse and director of software engineering at Dude Solutions, a software company.