Report: What is the Best City for Job Seekers?

With unemployment at a 17-year low and job creation numbers on the rise, the news for job seekers has been good recently.  But of course, industries and opportunities vary across this vast nation, and the job market in sunny Los Angeles is not the same as in windy Chicago.

Meanwhile, every job seeker has different priorities—for some it may be living close to family, for others it’s work-life balance or salary. Therefore, when thinking about what constitutes ‘the best city for job seekers’ numerous factors have to be taken into account.

Here at Indeed we identified four questions that we consider key:

  1. How favorable is the local labor market to the job seeker?
  2. What’s the average salary, adjusted for cost of living?
  3. How high do employers score for work-life balance in Indeed’s review database?
  4. How high do employers score for job security and advancement opportunities in Indeed’s review database?

Next, we analyzed the data for the 50 metro areas with the most job postings on Indeed, and ranked each city on the four factors. Finally, our data science team used these factors to assign an Indeed City Score, which gave each metro an overall score out of 100. What did they find? Read on!

Sunny side up: Californian cities lead the rankings

This is our second year of ranking the best cities for job seekers and we noticed some big changes. In fact, we’ve got six newcomers this year’s top ten — two of whom didn’t even crack the top 25 in 2017.

Our 2017 rankings featured seven southern cities from Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas in the top ten. This year half of the top ten cities for job seekers are in California—including first place San Jose, second place San Francisco, as well as San Diego, Los Angeles and Sacramento.

Outside of California, the other cities in the top ten represent practically all four corners of the U.S., and the Midwest: Boston, Miami, Minneapolis, Seattle and Washington DC. The rise of Minneapolis and Boston is notable, as neither cracked the top 25 last year.

The overall Indeed City Score took multiple factors into account, so even the top ranked cities fared well on some indicators, and less well on others. Our sunniest cities in the top ten ranked highest on work-life balance. Los Angeles, Miami, San Jose, San Diego and San Francisco were the top five ranked cities for this measure.

But it’s not all about hanging out at the beach — the same cities topped the lists for job security and advancement as well, with Miami coming in first, San Diego second, Los Angeles third, San Jose fifth, and San Francisco sixth. Interestingly, the same cities ranked relatively low on salary. Because we adjusted salary for cost of living, this suggests that the cost of living may be outpacing salaries in these cities.

Relatively chilly Minneapolis and Seattle rank high for job market favorability (#3 and #6 respectively) meaning the ratio of jobs available to the number of job seekers is favorable to the seeker in those cities. Washington DC and Miami may not appear to have much in common — one is the seat of the US government, and the other is known for its beaches and Latin vibe — but they both did well on job security and work-life balance.

When we broaden the view to the top 25, the South has an additional six cities included. Tech hub Austin, last year’s 4th place city for job seekers, is now 12th. Other Southern cities included in the top 25 are New Orleans (14th), San Antonio (17th), Atlanta (22nd), Memphis (23rd) and Houston (25th). New Orleans is one of the top cities for job security and advancement, in seventh place, and Atlanta ranks high on salary, coming in seventh.

In 2017, not a single city in the Midwest, a region historically strong in manufacturing, made the top 25 list for jobs seekers. This year, in addition to Minneapolis (#6) another five Midwestern made the top 25: Milwaukee (11th), Columbus (19th), Omaha (20th), St. Louis (21st) and Chicago (24th). Milwaukee and Omaha rank high in job market favorability, and St. Louis ranks high in salary.

The Northeast and Mid Atlantic regions have less of presence, each adding one other city in the top 25.

City Spotlights

San Jose, CA

San Jose fared well on last year’s list for job seekers as well, coming in sixth. This year, San Jose was the top ranked city for job market favorability, third for work/life balance and fifth for job security and advancement. San Jose ranked lower on salary, coming in 35th.

San Jose, home of Silicon Valley, is known as the tech capital of the US. True to this, computer and mathematical occupations make up 12% of all jobs in the San Jose metro area, compared to a national average of less than 3%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Major employers in San Jose include tech companies like Apple and Cisco, as well as the County of Santa Clara, and Stanford University. Second ranked San Francisco is only an hour away, making this region a jobs powerhouse.

Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles moved up ten places in the rankings from last year’s list. Los Angeles was the top ranked city for work/life balance and came in third for job security and advancement. The city ranked in the middle, at 26th, for job market favorability, and ranked low for salary at 47th.

Los Angeles is the hub of the entertainment industry in the US, and BLS data shows the percentage of jobs in entertainment and creative fields is double the national average. Los Angeles is also well above national employment averages in healthcare and personal care, according to the BLS. Top employers in Los Angeles County include entertainment companies such as Paramount and Walt Disney, health companies such as Cedar-Sinai Medical Center, and government offices such as the police department and sheriff’s office.

Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis jumped to sixth best city for job seekers after not making the top 25 in 2017. Minneapolis ranked third for job market favorability, and had middle rankings for salary (17th), work/life balance (21st), and job security and advancement (26th).

Minneapolis is well above the national employment averages for business and financial jobs, personal care jobs, and computer and mathematical jobs, according to BLS data. Some of the biggest employers in Minneapolis are 3M, Target, Allina Health System,and the State of Minnesota (the capital is in nearby St. Paul).

Seattle, WA

Seattle moved up eight places from last year’s list to reach ninth this year. Seattle had a high job market favorability ranking at sixth. It also ranked relatively high on salary (18th), and was in the middle for work/life balance (32nd) and job security and advancement (34th).

Seattle is one of the fastest growing cities in the US, and the tech sector in particular has contributed to an economic boom in the area. Almost 7% of jobs in the Seattle area are in computer and mathematical occupations, over double the national average, according to BLS data. Major employers in the Seattle area include Boeing, Microsoft, Amazon and the University of Washington.

Washington, DC

Washington DC is the tenth best city for jobs seekers this year, after not making last year’s top 25 list. Washington DC ranked fourth for job security and advancement, and sixth for work/life balance. It was in the middle for job market favorability (20th), and second to last in salary.

The capital of the US, Washington DC is the center of government and home to many nonprofits and NGOs. The public sector typically has lower salaries than the private sector, which could explain the city’s low salary ranking. The largest employers in the Washington DC area are the federal government, the public school systems, and MedStar Health.

Who’s missing from the top 25?

The elephant (or giant apple) in the room, is that the most populous city in the US is absent from this list. For the second year in a row, New York has not made the top 25 list for job seekers (it came in 46 out of 50 in our analysis).

Since 2010, the number of people moving out of New York has outpaced the people moving in, and over a million people have left — the largest migration out of a major US city during that time period. This is reflective of a larger trend of Americans leaving the northeast for other regions, and it’s possible that job seekers may be seeking less expensive places to live.

Traditional “rust belt” cities such as Detroit, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh are also absent from the top 25, as they struggle to recover from long declines in jobs.

Each city has something different to offer job seekers, from different climate and pace of life to cultural events. Ultimately, it’s up to job seekers to decide what best matches their priorities, but it appears that employers in the top cities for job seekers will have many quality candidates to choose from.

Methodology: 
Indeed created this list by calculating standard scores for the 50 US metro areas with most job postings according to four separate categories: 1) Job market favorability (ratio of job postings vs. job seeker interest) 2) Salary weighted for cost of living 3) work/life balance rankings 4) Job security/advancement rankings.
Each metro is ranked in order by category, based on employee reviews on Indeed Company Pages. Indeed summed the normalized values for each category and rescaled the total score with 100 as top score and 0 as lowest score to determine the “Indeed City Score”. The list highlights the 25 metro areas with highest “Indeed City Scores”.