The Top Cities for US Job Seekers in 2022
These are hectic times. The global pandemic keeps on keeping on while inflation and rising interest rates have challenged households across the United States. However, the national unemployment rate is low. In June 2022, it was 3.6%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics comparable to unemployment before the start of the pandemic.
It's a job seekers’ market right now, which may inspire some to take the financial risk to move to a new state or city. MoneyGeek compared 75 cities with labor forces of at least 500,000 to find the best and worst places for job seekers in the U.S. We analyzed five key economic factors to determine our ranking: wage and job growth, unemployment rate, labor force size and housing affordability.
- North Port, Florida, Austin, Texas, and Jacksonville, Florida, are the best cities for job seekers. Strong growth in jobs and wages combined with low unemployment put these cities at the top of the ranking.
- Honolulu, Hawaii, and New York, New York, rank as the worst cities for job seekers. Unaffordable housing and stagnant job growth put these cities at the bottom of our ranking.
- Orlando, Florida, is the best city for job growth, with a 9.2% increase in jobs from 2021 to 2022, marking a return of the leisure and hospitality industry in the region. Comparatively, Las Vegas, Nevada — another hospitality hub — has the fifth-highest unemployment rate in the country at 5%
- North Port, Florida, had the highest wage growth of any city at 16.8%, contributing to its ranking as the best city for job seekers overall.
The Best (& Worst) Cities for Job Seekers in the US
MoneyGeek analyzed 75 of the largest cities in the United States to find the best and worst for job seekers. We looked at each community’s growth in employment during the last 12 months and for the previous three years, growth in hourly wages, unemployment rates, labor force size and the average monthly wage over monthly rent ratio to determine our rankings. The most important factors — including growth in employment during the last 12 months and three years and growth in hourly wages — were double-weighted (22%), while the other factors each contributed 11%.
15 Best Cities for Job Seekers in the US
The best cities for job seekers have impressive job and wage growth, low job competition and affordable housing prices; in other words, they provide solid employment opportunities and low-cost living. View MoneyGeek’s top 15 cities for job seekers in the U.S. below.
- 1. North Port, FloridaOverall Score: 99.0
- 99.0Overall Growth (Jobs & Wages)
- 11.2Job Competition (Lower is Better)
- 38.9Housing Affordability
- 2. Austin, TexasOverall Score: 94.7
- 86.7Overall Growth (Jobs & Wages)
- 19.1Job Competition (Lower is Better)
- 45.7Housing Affordability
- 3. Jacksonville, FloridaOverall Score: 86.7
- 77.4Overall Growth (Jobs & Wages)
- 13.9Job Competition (Lower is Better)
- 62.3Housing Affordability
- 4. Orlando, FloridaOverall Score: 84.5
- 80.1Overall Growth (Jobs & Wages)
- 21.4Job Competition (Lower is Better)
- 32.6Housing Affordability
- 5. Dallas, TexasOverall Score: 79.5
- 65.7Overall Growth (Jobs & Wages)
- 31.2Job Competition (Lower is Better)
- 51.7Housing Affordability
- 6. Nashville, TennesseeOverall Score: 78.1
- 69.6Overall Growth (Jobs & Wages)
- 19.0Job Competition (Lower is Better)
- 55.0Housing Affordability
- 7. Atlanta, GeorgiaOverall Score: 72.5
- 57.8Overall Growth (Jobs & Wages)
- 17.5Job Competition (Lower is Better)
- 51.1Housing Affordability
- 8. Raleigh, North CarolinaOverall Score: 72.5
- 68.0Overall Growth (Jobs & Wages)
- 25.6Job Competition (Lower is Better)
- 56.6Housing Affordability
- 9. Tampa, FloridaOverall Score: 72.0
- 64.3Overall Growth (Jobs & Wages)
- 14.4Job Competition (Lower is Better)
- 37.4Housing Affordability
- 10. Seattle, WashingtonOverall Score: 67.8
- 61.6Overall Growth (Jobs & Wages)
- 21.0Job Competition (Lower is Better)
- 28.5Housing Affordability
- 11. Boise, IdahoOverall Score: 66.5
- 65.0Overall Growth (Jobs & Wages)
- 16.3Job Competition (Lower is Better)
- 54.4Housing Affordability
- 12. Phoenix, ArizonaOverall Score: 66.3
- 55.2Overall Growth (Jobs & Wages)
- 22.8Job Competition (Lower is Better)
- 48.7Housing Affordability
- 13. Denver, ColoradoOverall Score: 64.0
- 60.3Overall Growth (Jobs & Wages)
- 31.0Job Competition (Lower is Better)
- 35.8Housing Affordability
- 14. Salt Lake City, UtahOverall Score: 59.3
- 53.1Overall Growth (Jobs & Wages)
- 11.5Job Competition (Lower is Better)
- 54.7Housing Affordability
- 15. Portland, OregonOverall Score: 59.1
- 59.8Overall Growth (Jobs & Wages)
- 37.2Job Competition (Lower is Better)
- 30.1Housing Affordability
15 Worst Cities for Job Seekers in the US
While the top cities on our list are affordable, growing and relatively uncompetitive, the worst cities for job seekers tend to have slower wage and job growth, less affordable housing relative to income and competitive job markets. These 15 cities ranked the lowest on our list.
- 1. Urban Honolulu, HawaiiOverall Score: 1.0
- 16.0Overall Growth (Jobs & Wages)
- 35.0Job Competition (Lower is Better)
- 5.9Housing Affordability
- 2. New York, New YorkOverall Score: 3.3
- 1.0Overall Growth (Jobs & Wages)
- 51.1Job Competition (Lower is Better)
- 6.4Housing Affordability
- 3. McAllen, TexasOverall Score: 3.8
- 27.4Overall Growth (Jobs & Wages)
- 99.0Job Competition (Lower is Better)
- 38.1Housing Affordability
- 4. Springfield, MassachusettsOverall Score: 4.4
- 10.7Overall Growth (Jobs & Wages)
- 45.4Job Competition (Lower is Better)
- 60.5Housing Affordability
- 5. Cleveland, OhioOverall Score: 8.5
- 6.0Overall Growth (Jobs & Wages)
- 73.2Job Competition (Lower is Better)
- 96.5Housing Affordability
- 6. Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaOverall Score: 9.8
- 7.5Overall Growth (Jobs & Wages)
- 50.8Job Competition (Lower is Better)
- 68.7Housing Affordability
- 7. Oxnard, CaliforniaOverall Score: 11.0
- 26.1Overall Growth (Jobs & Wages)
- 29.2Job Competition (Lower is Better)
- 1.5Housing Affordability
- 8. Allentown, PennsylvaniaOverall Score: 13.2
- 23.4Overall Growth (Jobs & Wages)
- 48.9Job Competition (Lower is Better)
- 39.7Housing Affordability
- 9. Baltimore, MarylandOverall Score: 16.9
- 15.0Overall Growth (Jobs & Wages)
- 34.2Job Competition (Lower is Better)
- 42.2Housing Affordability
- 10. Richmond, VirginiaOverall Score: 17.4
- 15.8Overall Growth (Jobs & Wages)
- 24.1Job Competition (Lower is Better)
- 54.4Housing Affordability
- 11. New Orleans, LouisianaOverall Score: 17.9
- 21.1Overall Growth (Jobs & Wages)
- 48.2Job Competition (Lower is Better)
- 60.9Housing Affordability
- 12. Rochester, New YorkOverall Score: 17.9
- 19.8Overall Growth (Jobs & Wages)
- 31.2Job Competition (Lower is Better)
- 53.3Housing Affordability
- 13. Dayton, OhioOverall Score: 18.7
- 15.7Overall Growth (Jobs & Wages)
- 33.3Job Competition (Lower is Better)
- 86.0Housing Affordability
- 14. Bridgeport, ConnecticutOverall Score: 19.8
- 23.2Overall Growth (Jobs & Wages)
- 42.9Job Competition (Lower is Better)
- 62.4Housing Affordability
- 15. Hartford, ConnecticutOverall Score: 20.3
- 21.3Overall Growth (Jobs & Wages)
- 43.0Job Competition (Lower is Better)
- 64.3Housing Affordability
Factors That Make a City Ideal for Job Seekers
We ranked the best and worst cities using four key factors — job growth, wage growth, unemployment rate and housing-to-income ratio — to better understand which cities best served those seeking employment and which fell flat. These factors all contribute to what makes a city excellent or less-than-ideal for job seekers; many cities excel in some areas but fall short in others.
To better understand how well or poorly cities performed in each of our ranking categories, MoneyGeek found the best (and worst) cities for each category. You can see those rankings — along with a brief description of their significance — below.
Job Growth Over the Last 12 Months
1. Orlando, FL (9.2%)
2. San Diego, CA (8.3%)
3. San Francisco, CA (8.3%)
4. Riverside, CA (8.2%)
5. San Jose, CA (8.0%)
1. Cleveland, OH (1.0%)
2. Columbia, SC (1.5%)
3. Virginia Beach, VA (1.8%)
4. Richmond, VA (1.9%)
5. Milwaukee, WI (2.0%)
In 2022, the majority of the best cities for job growth in the last 12 months are concentrated in California, though Orlando, Florida, tops our list. Three of the five worst cities for job growth are located in the Southern U.S.
Wage Growth Over the Last 12 Months
1. North Port, FL (16.8%)
2. Virginia Beach, VA (13.5%)
3. Austin, TX (10.1%)
4. Louisville/Jefferson County, KY (10.1%)
5. Detroit, MI (10.0%)
1. McAllen, TX (-2.7%)
2. Dayton, OH (-1.9%)
3. Indianapolis, IN (-0.8%)
4. San Jose, CA (-0.5%)
5. Bakersfield, CA (-0.3%)
When wages grow, a city is doing something right. North Port, Florida’s 12-month wage growth tops the list at almost 17%. Meanwhile, McAllen, Texas, has had negative 2.7% wage growth since 2021.
1. Minneapolis, MN (1.5%)
2. Birmingham, AL (1.9%)
3. Indianapolis, IN (2.0%)
4. Omaha, NE (2.1%)
5. North Port, FL (2.1%)
1. McAllen, TX (6.8%)
2. Bakersfield, CA (6.8%)
3. Fresno, CA (6.0%)
4. Cleveland, OH (5.4%)
5. Las Vegas, NV (5.0%)
Naturally, it’s a good sign for a job seeker if you see a city with low unemployment; ultimately, it means your odds of being hired at a new job should be pretty good. Minneapolis, Minnesota, is MoneyGeek’s standout in this category, with just 1.5% unemployment.
1. Des Moines, IA (21.5%)
2. St. Louis, MO (21.7%)
3. Cleveland, OH (21.8%)
4. Knoxville, TN (23.1%)
5. Indianapolis, IN (23.3%)
1. San Francisco, CA (53.4%)
2. Oxnard, CA (52.9%)
3. Urban Honolulu, HI (49.7%)
4. New York, NY (49.4%)
5. San Diego, CA (47.1%)
A city’s housing-to-income ratio roughly translates to its affordability; the less money you spend on rent and housing compared to your overall income, the more money you have for everything else. That’s why in Des Moines, your money goes much farther than it does in San Francisco. In Des Moines, monthly rent costs just under 22% of your income, on average. After paying for housing in San Francisco, you’ll have to spend more than half of your income (53%) on housing and be left with roughly 46% of your paycheck to cover all other expenses.
Financial Tips for Job Seekers
Relocating to a new city to find a job can be time-consuming and expensive, especially if this isn’t a cross-town journey and you’re moving out of state. If you’re going to move to a new city without having a job lined up, we recommend considering the following:
Ensure you have adequate savings.
Start saving as much as possible to ensure you have a financial safety net in your new city. After all, you may move somewhere the jobs are plentiful, but the interview process could take longer than you imagine. A robust savings account also means you can be choosier about the jobs you pick, and you’ll have something to sustain you if your first job doesn’t last long.
Try not to rely too much on credit cards.
Yes, credit cards are an indispensable cash flow tool and, if you have a credit card with rewards, an excellent way to make money. Use your credit cards well, and those cash back rewards will mean you make money off your purchases. But if you move somewhere without a job and don’t find employment immediately, the credit card debt you’re accruing could eventually mean that much of your future paycheck will be devoted to paying off revolving debt.
Research your new city and make a plan.
As in, figure out where you may live. Will you start off in a hotel or an apartment complex? Or somewhere in between? Have you used a cost of living calculator to crunch the numbers and see what it will cost you to live there, including possible mortgage prices? The more information you have, the better you’ll feel about your decision.
Expert Advice: Tips for Job Seekers Looking to Relocate
If you’re going to move to a new city because of its job prospects, it helps to know how cities create employment opportunities for their residents. We spoke to several experts to get their take on what cities are doing right with their job creation policies — and what job seekers can do to find livable cities.
- What are some of the most effective policies used to create jobs?
- Aside from jobs, what makes a place suitable for job seekers?
- What would you recommend to a job seeker trying to find a more livable city?
Adjunct Professor, College of Business at the University of Central Florida
Adjunct Lecturer of Finance, iMBA Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Associate Professor of Economics & Director, International Business Dual Degree Program at Elon University
CEO at Inspire Careers
Associate Professor at the University of South Carolina’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policies
Managing Partner at Clearwater Business Advisers LLC
Executive Coach at The Big Game Hunter
CEO/Executive & Career Coach at Terry B. McDougall Coaching
Chief Economist & Public Finance Senior Research Fellow at the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the David Eccles School of Business
Founder at Employment BOOST
Founder & CEO of Career Start
Business Ethics Lecturer at San Diego State University
Assistant Professor of Management at Howard University
Human Resources Consultant & Professor of Management and Human Resources
Leadership & Career Coach, Speaker & Author of "Red Cape Rescue: Save Your Career Without Leaving Your Job"
President at Total Engagement Consulting by Kimer
Professor of Economics & Director of the International Studies Program at Juniata College
Executive Director of Undergraduate Career Services at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business
Assistant Dean & Director, Career Resource Center, University at Buffalo School of Management
Founder of The Voice of Job Seekers
Certified Life Purpose & Confidence Coach and Founder at The PowHERful Woman
Full Data Set
The data points presented are defined as follows:
- Total Score: The city’s overall score — with a higher score indicating more favorable conditions for job seekers — and calculated through the methods described in the Methodology section.
- Overall Growth (Jobs & Wages): The city’s overall growth in jobs and wages compared to all other cities on the list — with a higher score indicating higher overall growth — and calculated through the methods described in the Methodology section.
- Job Competition (Lower Is Better): The city’s overall job competition compared to all other cities on the list — with a lower score representing less competition — calculated through the methods described in the Methodology section.
- Housing Affordability: The city’s overall housing affordability compared to all other cities on the list — with a higher score indicating more affordable housing compared to average income — calculated through the methods described in the Methodology section.
Overall Growth (Jobs & Wages) Score
Job Competition Score (Lower Is Better)
Housing Affordability Score
North Port, FL
Salt Lake City, UT
Louisville/Jefferson County, KY
San Diego, CA
Oklahoma City, OK
Los Angeles, CA
San Antonio, TX
Des Moines, IA
San Francisco, CA
Kansas City, MO
San Jose, CA
Las Vegas, NV
Baton Rouge, LA
St. Louis, MO
Grand Rapids, MI
Virginia Beach, VA
New Orleans, LA
New York, NY
Urban Honolulu, HI
To rank the best cities for job seekers, MoneyGeek calculated three factors using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and median rent rates reported by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, representing how good a city is for someone seeking jobs. The first factor is job growth, which incorporates the trend in jobs created and the trend in wages. The next consideration is job competition, which includes the unemployment rate as well as the overall size of the employment numbers reflecting greater absolute availability of jobs. The final factor is housing affordability, which captures the ratio of wages over rents to indicate an area's cost of living.
MoneyGeek used the following metrics in our analysis:
- Growth in Employment, Last 12 months: 22% weight (double weight)
- Growth in Employment, Last three years: 22% weight (double weight)
- Growth in Hourly Wages, Last 12 months: 22% weight (double weight)
- Unemployment Rate, Current: 11% weight (full weight)
- Size of Labor Force: 11% weight (full weight)
- Monthly Wages Over Monthly Rents Ratio: 11% weight (full weight)
The individual factors were ranked as follows:
- Overall Growth: Growth in employment last 12 months (44%), growth in employment last 36 months (22%), hourly wage growth 33%. In the overall ranking, this is 45% of the overall weight.
- Job Competition: Unemployment rate 78% weight, size of labor force 22% weight. In the overall ranking, this is 45% of the overall ranking.
- Housing Affordability: Wages over rents ratio, 100%. This is 10% of the overall ranking composition.
For the purposes of this analysis, only metropolitan statistical areas with labor forces larger than 500,000 were considered in the ranking.
About the Author
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "State and Metro Area Employment, Hours, & Earnings." Accessed May 27, 2022.
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. "50TH PERCENTILE RENT ESTIMATES." Accessed May 27, 2022.