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The Best Cities for Jobs in 2020:
Where to Find Great Opportunities in the U.S.

By Luke Redd
Last Updated September 16, 2020

The Best Cities for Jobs in 2017What are the best cities for jobs right now? That's a smart question. Thankfully, there are many great answers. You might even live in one of the best U.S. cities for finding work already. If not, you may be close to one. Or, like many other job seekers, maybe you're ready and willing to move farther from home in order to take advantage of a particular city's growing economy. After all, where you are today doesn't have to be where you stay tomorrow.

Ultimately, the best place to find jobs is a little different for every person. It often depends on your occupation, the industry you'd like to work in, and whether you'd prefer to live in a large, midsize, or small city. For example, the best cities for tech jobs are frequently different than the best cities for manufacturing or agricultural jobs. And, of course, the largest cities in America tend to provide the greatest number and variety of opportunities. However, many small and midsize cities also generate terrific jobs in a surprising range of industries.

So, what are the best cities to find a job in? Urban labor markets are always changing, but this article answers that question in a few ways:

To arrive at our lists, we used a different methodology than websites like Glassdoor tend to use. First, we used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to find out which metropolitan areas in the U.S. had the lowest unemployment rates as of April 2020. Since the COVID-19 pandemic had an outsized effect on those rates, we combined them with the average rates for each area for all of 2019 and calculated the average of those two figures.

Then, we ranked those areas based on their projected rates of average yearly employment growth, rounded to the nearest tenth of one percent. In many cases, only statewide projections were available.

For each metropolitan area, we've also included the population (based on U.S. Census Bureau data for 2019). In addition, we've included the average yearly wages for each area (based on BLS data from 2019). And we've also provided a few examples of hot jobs for each area (based on their prevalence in online job boards as of July 2020).

The 25 Best Large Cities in America for Jobs

The Best Cities for Jobs in 2017It isn't always the case, but the best cities to work in (within the U.S.A. or elsewhere around the world) are often the ones with the largest populations. After all, the more residents a city has, the greater diversity of industry it tends to have to support them. And that diversity often allows a large city to keep growing and adding jobs. It can also enable a large city to recover more quickly from economic downturns.

That's why many of the best job opportunities are in America's largest cities. The 25 metropolitan areas below all have populations of more than one million people. Their average rates of unemployment are all lower than the national average of 9.05 percent. (A low unemployment rate is often a sign of a growing economy, especially in large cities.)

Keep in mind that, in each city, many other hot jobs exist beyond the ones listed. Large metropolitan areas frequently generate many job openings for qualified professionals in career sectors as diverse as healthcare, the skilled trades, business, technology, design, the culinary arts, and criminal justice.

1. Salt Lake City, Utah

This city isn't just a beautiful destination for lovers of outdoor recreation; it also provides ample opportunities to earn a good living. In fact, it might be the easiest city to find a job in if you're young and have highly valued skills related to business, finance, technology, healthcare, or biomedical research.

2. Indianapolis, Indiana

With thriving manufacturing, logistics, sports, and technology sectors, this metro area offers something for almost any kind of professional. And the region is home to many great neighborhoods, which help support a high quality of life.

3. Austin, Texas

For creative professionals who enjoy a lively music and arts scene, it's hard to beat the Austin metro area, which includes Round Rock. This part of Texas is very different, in a lot of ways, than the rest of the state. And it has a great reputation for supporting a wide variety of fun and interesting occupations.

4. Dallas, Texas

This huge metro area, which includes Fort Worth and Arlington, continues to attract many established and emerging companies and entrepreneurs. After all, it has almost everything a professional might want, including a relatively low cost of living and great cultural and entertainment amenities.

5. San Antonio, Texas

As a fast-growing metropolis, the San Antonio area is home to many successful companies that create good jobs. It also has an exceptionally low cost of living for a metropolitan area of its size.

6. Phoenix, Arizona

The Arizona job market is often one of the nation's bright spots thanks to the incredible growth of the Phoenix metropolitan area, which includes places like Mesa and Scottsdale. Not only is the cost of living affordable, but the large variety of good-paying career sectors also makes this region worth exploring.

7. Nashville, Tennessee

Most people know of Nashville as a popular destination for musicians and songwriters. But this high-energy metro area is also a terrific place for many other kinds of young, creative, and business-oriented professionals.

8. San Jose, California

You've heard of Silicon Valley, right? This is where it first got its name. So innovation and opportunity are in this city's DNA. But you don't have to be a tech whiz or a visionary entrepreneur to succeed in this metro area (which includes Santa Clara). In fact, the region supports an impressive diversity of good occupations, as well as great lifestyle amenities.

9. Jacksonville, Florida

Many young and established professionals consider this city an ideal place to live and work. Beyond great beaches and exciting cultural options, the Jacksonville area offers a low cost of living and several good industries.

10. San Francisco, California

As part of the world-famous and ever-expanding Silicon Valley, San Francisco is often considered the best city for jobs in the high-tech sector. And other parts of the metro area such as Oakland are gaining recognition for supporting high-paying jobs with fascinating and growing companies.

  • Projected employment growth (2016 to 2026)—1.1 percent per year (from the State of California Employment Development Department)
  • Average unemployment rate—7.9 percent
  • Population—4.73 million
  • Average yearly wage—$75,890
  • Hot jobsAdministrative assistant, marketing specialist, and software developer

11. Miami, Florida

Between the great weather, amazing beaches, and vibrant culture, what's not to love? When you also consider the huge range of professional opportunities in this metro area—which includes Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach—it's impossible to ignore the awesome potential you can tap into.

  • Projected employment growth (2019 to 2027)—1.1 percent per year, statewide (from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity)
  • Average unemployment rate—8 percent
  • Population—6.17 million
  • Average yearly wage—$50,060
  • Hot jobsLegal assistant, project manager, and human resources specialist

12. Tampa, Florida

The Tampa metro area, which includes Clearwater and St. Petersburg, has a thriving business community and a nice variety of industries. Plus, it's relatively affordable and offers a lot of great lifestyle amenities.

  • Projected employment growth (2019 to 2027)—1.1 percent per year, statewide (from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity)
  • Average unemployment rate—8.15 percent
  • Population—3.19 million
  • Average yearly wage—$49,590
  • Hot jobsProject manager, property manager, and administrative assistant

13. Denver, Colorado

The Denver metro area (which includes suburbs like Aurora and Lakewood) is an inspiring place to grow your career. That's especially true when you consider that, every day, the Rocky Mountains serve as a gorgeous backdrop to the city's residents. Plus, Colorado, in general, is one of the best states for jobs, culture, and recreation.

14. Rochester, New York

The Finger Lakes region is home to many advanced career sectors. And the Rochester area is known for providing an exceptional quality of life. In part, that's because it has a small-town feel with plenty of historic charm and picturesque scenery.

15. Richmond, Virginia

As one of America's most historic yet forward-looking cities, Richmond offers job seekers more than just compelling work opportunities in business and other sectors. It also offers celebrated amenities such as world-class dining, charming neighborhoods, and close proximity to great recreational areas.

16. Virginia Beach, Virginia

Virginia's largest metropolitan area, which includes Norfolk and Newport News, is often considered one of the best places to live in the U.S. Many businesses thrive, and working professionals and their families have access to amazing parks, wilderness areas, and other recreational hot spots.

  • Projected employment growth (2016 to 2026)—1.0 percent per year, statewide (from the Virginia Employment Commission)
  • Average unemployment rate—7.6 percent
  • Population—1.77 million
  • Average yearly wage—$49,620
  • Hot jobsEngineering technician, HVAC technician, and software developer

17. Boston, Massachusetts

Most people are aware of the Boston area's distinctive charm and amazing art and entertainment options. But this lively and highly cultured part of New England is also home to some of the nation's best employers and most progressive industries.

18. Raleigh, North Carolina

Technology and the health sciences are quickly helping this region become known as a center of growth and innovation. But the people who live there also seem to really enjoy it, partly because of terrific housing options and easy access to a wealth of entertainment and recreational amenities.

19. Charlotte, North Carolina

When people move to this metropolitan region—which includes Concord and Gastonia—they tend to stay. After all, for a city its size, Charlotte boasts a relatively low cost of living. And along with a growing number of job opportunities, the city's residents enjoy being only a two- or three-hour drive away from breathtaking mountains or terrific beaches.

  • Projected employment growth (2017 to 2026)—0.9 percent per year, statewide (from the North Carolina Department of Commerce)
  • Average unemployment rate—8.1 percent
  • Population—2.64 million
  • Average yearly wage—$52,150
  • Hot jobsMarketing specialist, software developer, and real estate agent

20. Columbus, Ohio

This dynamic city provides companies with tremendous access to several different markets. In turn, those employers tend to offer compelling opportunities to job seekers who want to live and work in a fast-growing region that continues to support a large variety of career sectors.

21. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

When it comes to opportunity and affordability, it's hard to beat this city. That's especially true if you're a young professional with marketable skills in areas like business, healthcare, aviation, logistics, or oil and gas. Not only are great jobs available, but the region also boasts many cultural, entertainment, and lifestyle amenities.

22. Washington, D.C.

America's bustling capital region includes cities such as Arlington and Alexandria in the surrounding states of Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia. Obviously, the federal government is a major employer within this metro area, but thousands of private employers also provide stable and high-paying job opportunities.

23. Kansas City, Missouri

This historic city has all the sophistication you might want, yet it still feels down-to-earth. Plus, it's a fun and affordable place to live and work. And all kinds of skilled professionals get to prosper from a growing economy that continues to generate satisfying opportunities.

24. Birmingham, Alabama

Love great restaurants, green spaces, and memorable hospitality? This vibrant city offers all of that and more, but one of the things that really sets it apart is its thriving business community. With more and more jobs being created every year, it's no wonder that skilled and educated professionals continue to call Birmingham home.

25. Hartford, Connecticut

The Hartford region is home to an abundance of successful professionals and tradespeople with all kinds of expertise. They get to enjoy an enriching arts and cultural scene while also being close to the beautiful countryside with its vast recreational opportunities.

Other Large U.S. Cities That Deserve a Mention

The Best Cities for Jobs in 2017Even though they don't currently make the list of the top 25 places based on the statistical data used above, it's important not to overlook other major urban areas that consistently generate amazing opportunities. For many people, popular metro areas like the ones below represent some of the best cities for jobs.

Seattle, Washington

The Best Cities for Jobs in 2017As what is probably the best city for tech jobs in the scenic American Northwest, Seattle keeps proving that it's a major center for success and innovation. In fact, the Seattle job market is expected to grow quite a bit in the years to come, including in areas like Tacoma and Bellevue.

Las Vegas, Nevada

As America's entertainment capital, Las Vegas might be the best city to work in if you love going out and spending a night on the town. After all, the Las Vegas job market (including areas like Henderson and Paradise) consistently generates many opportunities that can allow you to earn a good living and keep enough money for having fun when you're off.

New York City, New York

How can anyone overlook this world-famous metropolis, which extends to places like Newark and Jersey City? It continues to be a major destination for young professionals who want to make names for themselves in a city that offers almost everything.

San Diego, California

Want year-round sunshine and the chance to work and live in a place with amazing professional, cultural, and recreational opportunities? This beautiful and diverse city is a major tourist destination for a reason. But it's also where many people can't resist putting down some roots.

  • Projected employment growth (2016 to 2026)—1.1 percent per year (from the State of California Employment Development Department)
  • Average unemployment rate—9.1 percent
  • Population—3.34 million
  • Average yearly wage—$60,230
  • Hot jobsEngineering technician, paralegal, and property manager

Orlando, Florida

For the fun and sunny weather alone, Florida is one of the best states to work in. But the Orlando metro area adds to that appeal thanks to its ability to support a lot of reliable and interesting jobs in tourism, business, and many other sectors.

Los Angeles, California

Few places around the world can match the sheer geographical size of this sprawling metro area, which includes Long Beach and Anaheim. But that huge size is what helps support a mind-boggling number of job opportunities each year in an incredible range of career sectors. Plus, the Southern California sun helps make almost every day an enjoyable experience.

Buffalo, New York

In this highly enjoyable metropolitan region, which includes Niagara Falls, it's often easy to build a life that you can feel proud of. People who call this area home get to enjoy incredible natural wonders as well as fun entertainment opportunities and a diverse range of advanced industries and employment options.

Louisville, Kentucky

This Midwestern metropolitan area, which includes Jefferson County in southern Indiana, is considered by many large companies to be a highly strategic location for their operations. As a result, the economy supports good jobs for both blue- and white-collar workers in a variety of career sectors.

The 25 Best Small and Midsize Cities in America for Jobs

The Best Cities for Jobs in 2017A large city isn't always the best city to find a job in, especially if you prefer less hustle and bustle. Fortunately, many small and midsize metropolitan regions offer the chance find jobs that are every bit as rewarding as what you can find in larger cities. Sometimes it's even easier to find them in a smaller region. In fact, based on our calculations, most of the metro areas listed below have lower unemployment rates than the larger ones listed above.

1. Midland, Texas

This safe, fast-growing community doesn't just offer an abundance of job opportunities; it also offers an expanding range of dining, shopping, recreational, and cultural amenities.

  • Projected employment growth (2016 to 2026)—1.7 percent per year, statewide (from the Texas Workforce Commission)
  • Average unemployment rate—6.15 percent
  • Population—182,603
  • Average yearly wage—$58,500
  • Hot jobsSocial worker, registered nurse, and heavy equipment operator

2. Idaho Falls, Idaho

By making it a great community to do business in, the people of this region continue to prove that good jobs can be generated in a place of amazing beauty, quality of life, and small-town charm.

3. Fargo, North Dakota

Consistent growth, an affordable cost of living, high quality of life, and a business-friendly atmosphere are all features of this flourishing region.

4. Lincoln, Nebraska

This city takes pride in knowing that it offers almost endless possibilities. As its skyline grows, so does the number of job opportunities for both young and experienced professionals in an impressive range of thriving industries.

5. Charlottesville, Virginia

People continue to fall in love with this small city's beauty, excellent dining options, and cultural and professional opportunities.

  • Projected employment growth (2016 to 2026)—1.0 percent per year, statewide (from the Virginia Employment Commission)
  • Average unemployment rate—6.05 percent
  • Population—218,615
  • Average yearly wage—$55,200
  • Hot jobsSoftware developer, registered nurse, and CDL truck driver

6. Staunton, Virginia

As one of America's most scenic and charming mountain towns, Staunton (and nearby Waynesboro) is a dream when it comes to quality of life. But don't let all that beauty make you overlook the tremendous career possibilities in the region.

  • Projected employment growth (2016 to 2026)—1.0 percent per year, statewide (from the Virginia Employment Commission)
  • Average unemployment rate—6.05 percent
  • Population—123,120
  • Average yearly wage—$43,840
  • Hot jobsSystem administrator, social worker, and truck driver

7. Harrisonburg, Virginia

This friendly city is known for supporting good work-life balance, and many people choose to stay and retire here after enjoying so much of the region's cultural and recreational amenities.

8. Ames, Iowa

In this welcoming region, the commutes are short, the people are friendly, and young professionals are often able to easily balance their career ambitions and personal goals.

9. Iowa City, Iowa

As one of the most livable places in the nation, this city continues to attract talented people and job-creating businesses and organizations.

10. Des Moines, Iowa

This affordable and welcoming city is great for young professionals and career-changers who want meaningful opportunities without some of the disadvantages of other major urban areas.

  • Projected employment growth (2016 to 2026)—0.9 percent per year, statewide (from Iowa Workforce Development)
  • Average unemployment rate—7.1 percent
  • Population—699,292
  • Average yearly wage—$52,890
  • Hot jobsDiesel mechanic, registered nurse, and software developer

11. Columbia, Missouri

With thriving sectors like technology, education, and healthcare, the appeal of this diverse, career-friendly city continues to grow.

12. Madison, Wisconsin

People who live and work in this job-friendly region tend to enjoy its combination of scenic rural areas and urban lifestyle amenities.

  • Projected employment growth (2016 to 2026)—0.7 percent per year, statewide (from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development)
  • Average unemployment rate—7.15 percent
  • Population—664,865
  • Average yearly wage—$54,300
  • Hot jobsHeavy equipment mechanic, IT specialist, and accounting specialist

13. La Crosse, Wisconsin

As one of the best regions along the Mississippi River, the La Crosse area—including Onalaska—provides an appealing range of opportunities in many different industries.

14. Wausau, Wisconsin

In addition to this city's great waterfront and recreational possibilities, area residents have the opportunity to enjoy numerous entertainment and cultural options when they aren't busy taking advantage of the career-friendly economy.

  • Projected employment growth (2016 to 2026)—0.7 percent per year, statewide (from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development)
  • Average unemployment rate—7.6 percent
  • Population—163,285
  • Average yearly wage—$47,580
  • Hot jobsTruck driver and IT specialist

15. Appleton, Wisconsin

Like several other small cities in Wisconsin, Appleton offers the chance to combine a good career with a great quality of life.

  • Projected employment growth (2016 to 2026)—0.7 percent per year, statewide (from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development)
  • Average unemployment rate—8.25 percent
  • Population—237,974
  • Average yearly wage—$47,460
  • Hot jobsHuman resources specialist, registered nurse, and software developer

16. Green Bay, Wisconsin

With expanding development, ongoing job growth, and easy access to a huge range of great leisure options, this is a place that many people love to call home.

17. Oshkosh, Wisconsin

The Greater Oshkosh area, which includes communities like Neenah, offers a relatively low cost of living, safe neighborhoods, the career and entertainment opportunities of a larger city, and the friendliness of a smaller town.

  • Projected employment growth (2016 to 2026)—0.7 percent per year, statewide (from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development)
  • Average unemployment rate—8.6 percent
  • Population—171,907
  • Average yearly wage—$48,410
  • Hot jobsMarketing specialist, administrative assistant, and registered nurse

18. Sheboygan, Wisconsin

With plenty of thriving middle-class neighborhoods and good employers, this community supports the ambitions of all kinds of career seekers and established professionals.

  • Projected employment growth (2016 to 2026)—0.7 percent per year, statewide (from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development)
  • Average unemployment rate—8.85 percent
  • Population—115,340
  • Average yearly wage—$46,550
  • Hot jobsRegistered nurse, administrative assistant, and accounting specialist

19. Fond du Lac, Wisconsin

Located at the foot of Lake Winnebago, this welcoming city features a wide variety of recreational options while also supporting a good range of career possibilities.

  • Projected employment growth (2016 to 2026)—0.7 percent per year, statewide (from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development)
  • Average unemployment rate—9.6 percent
  • Population—103,403
  • Average yearly wage—$49,210
  • Hot jobsTruck driver, office manager, and accounting specialist

20. Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, Hawaii

The stunning beauty and small-town vibe offered by these areas on Maui provide an amazing backdrop for professionals who are ready to take advantage of all the career opportunities.

21. Honolulu, Hawaii

As one of the world's most popular travel destinations, Hawaii is among the states with the most jobs directly related to tourism and hospitality. But you also can't overlook the fact that a place like urban Honolulu generates truly captivating job opportunities in several other career sectors. Plus, few other U.S. locations can match the region's breathtaking beauty and lifestyle possibilities.

22. Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Aside from the many job opportunities that are expected to be generated in the coming years, Portsmouth's residents get to enjoy a relaxed and friendly atmosphere in a historic and beautiful seaside setting.

  • Projected employment growth (2018 to 2028)—0.5 percent per year, statewide (from New Hampshire Employment Security)
  • Average unemployment rate—8.7 percent
  • Population—21,927
  • Average yearly wage—$59,200
  • Hot jobsHelp desk technician, marketing specialist, and project manager

23. Dover, New Hampshire

Along with Durham, Maine, this small metropolitan region is known as a great place for young professionals and their families thanks to its affordability, cultural richness, and walkability.

24. Manchester, New Hampshire

The Greater Manchester area continues to grow and create additional prosperity for its residents while retaining the qualities that make it one of New England's most livable places.

25. Burlington, Vermont

Residents of the Greater Burlington area have easy access to amazing scenery, outdoor adventure, family-friendly neighborhoods, and opportunities with top employers.

Find a Place Where You Can Grow

The best cities for jobs in your intended career sector may or may not be listed above. But, regardless of the city you end up in, you still may need some additional training in order to take advantage of the best opportunities. So don't hesitate to explore the career-oriented trade schools and colleges where you are right now. Simply enter your current zip code into the following school finder to discover the options near you!