The latest unemployment figures show an encouraging dip in the national unemployment rate, to 9.4 percent, the lowest level in 19 months. Of course, 9.4 percent is still a dismal figure; before the current recession, unemployment remained mostly between 4 and 6 percent. Job-seekers discouraged by the slow downward creep of the unemployment rate may see more immediate relief by seeking employment in a new city. A U.S. News analysis of statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and job aggregator site Juju.com shows that the best cities right now for the unemployed to seek greener pastures are Washington, D.C.; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Boston, Massachusetts.
Two factors were considered in compiling these rankings: number of individuals per advertised job and overall unemployment rate. Juju.com, a Web site that aggregates millions of job postings from around the Internet, calculates on a monthly basis the number of unemployed individuals per advertised job in 50 of the largest metropolitan areas of the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also releases monthly unemployment figures for select U.S. cities as well. Below are the cities that ranked most favorably on both scales.
1. Washington, D.C. (6.0% unemployment, 1.29 people per job posting)
2. Salt Lake City (7.1%, 2.57)
3. Boston (7.4%, 2.32)
4. Oklahoma City (6.2%, 2.91)
5. St. Paul, MN (6.5%, 2.81)
6. Austin (7.1%, 2.64)
7. Baltimore (7.8%, 2.08)
8. Milwaukee (7.5%, 2.61)
9. New York (8.5%, 1.81)
10. Hartford, CT (8.5%, 2.09)
Juju Vice President Brendan Cruickshank says that cities with healthy job markets in healthcare, education, and technology--like Boston, with its dozens of hospitals and healthcare facilities, and Austin, home to Dell Computers--generally have more favorable job markets than cities hit hard by the housing collapse and heavy manufacturing, like Miami, Las Vegas, and Detroit.In addition, many of these cities are the seats of government--the list includes seven state capitals, as well as the nation's capital--and in many of these cities, the government is a primary employer.
While there are commonalities between many of the cities on our list, many also have their own unique major employers. For example, the Social Security Administration and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, headquartered in the Baltimore suburb of Woodlawn, employ nearly 15,000 people in the area, according to the Baltimore County Department of Economic Development. And the Hartford Financial Services Group has become a top employer in Hartford, Connecticut, since it originated there 200 years ago.
Of course, there are many smaller cities with excellent job markets. Though they are not included in the Juju.com rankings, many cities in the Upper Midwest also have favorable unemployment rates. Indeed, the nine U.S. cities with the lowest unemployment rates are in the Dakotas, Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska, with rates at 4.6 percent or lower. Yet these smaller cities may also have comparatively fewer job opportunities. The unemployed-to-jobs ratios in these cities, as estimated by U.S. News, are all greater than 3.0--higher than all of the above-listed top 10 cities.