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Ten Best Cities for Jobs

The Best Places to Work

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In 2003, New York's Capital District region (Albany-Schenectady-Troy) was Number 37 on the Milken Institute's Best Performing Cities Index. In 2004, the Capital District plummented to Number 131 on the list of the best cities that create and keep good jobs. In 2005, The Capital District was back up to Number 66.

What happened in upstate New York? The Milken index measures short-term (one year) and long-term (five years) employment and salary growth, as well as technology growth. The Capital District is expecting new chip plants to be approved in Malta, NY, just north of Albany. Perhaps that has something to do with it. Unemployment is typically below the state and national average. However, job creation is usually less than other cities that rank better on the list.

The Top Ranking Cities

So, even though upstate New York might have been really appealing at one point, this year's top cities tend to be in in much warmer climates. In addition, all this year’s top-ranked metropolitan regions have a growing services sector in common, including tourism, health care, and home construction. That could account for the Capital District's drop and certainly helps clarify why most of the best cities are those in tourist and retirement destinations. Job growth is a factor too. The best performing cities created jobs, while much of the rest of the United States lost them.

Top on the list for 2005 is Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Florda, while for 2004 Fort Myers-Cape Coral, Florida, up from Number 5 in 2003, topped the list. All the Florida cities on the list had phenomenal job growth (some as high as 20% during the last five years) and low unemployment.

2005 Best Performing Cities:
Small Cities
Large Cities

2004 Best Performing Cities:
Small Cities
Large Cities

How to Evaluate a City

If you are interested in relocating, certainly consider the best cities on the list. Research the job market to find out what types of jobs are being created.

Evaluate Jobs. Are the positions:

  • Low paying service sector jobs
  • Seasonal jobs
  • Jobs without health insurance and other employee benefits
  • Jobs without a pension
  • Jobs with few opportunities for career and income growth

    If they do fall into those categories, evaluate the cost-of-living in the regions that sound appealing. Can you earn enough to pay the rent or a mortgage and to pay the costs of your benefits? Use a salary calculator to help analyze whether you will be able to get by. Then, visit our Compensation Center to get calculators, surveys, and advice on negotiating compensation with that prospective employer.

    Given how the list can change from year to year, as you can see from what happened to New York's Capital District, don't rely strictly on rankings, rather visit the area to find out what the job market is "really" like and to discover if it is truly somewhere you want to live before you make a final decision.

    Utilize local job search resources to focus your search for employment on the specific industries and location where you want to work.

    Finally, keep in mind that conducting a long distance job search isn't always easy. You'll need to be creative, flexible and ready to move on a moment's notice.

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