By Craig Erwin, Ph.D.
When I wanted a new job, I bought an atlas that ranked U.S. metro areas on criteria such as the crime rate, taxes, the weather, the cost of living, traffic, and arts and culture. This enabled me to target metro areas that would meet most of my needs. I ended up in Norman, Oklahoma, largely because it gets 300 days of sunshine a year and it has a mild climate and a university. I turned down a job offer in Ypsilanti, MI largely because of the chilly winters, high crime rate, and poor schools.
Many of us will graduate from college soon, so we’re looking for jobs. The hottest job markets are no longer New York, Chicago, and L.A.; they are mid-size cities like Austin, TX; Provo, UT; and Fayetteville, AR.
Recently the Wall Street Journal and Moody’s Analytics analyzed jobs for 300 U.S. metro areas. They used the following factors to determine the most robust job markets: “the unemployment rate, labor-force participation rate, job growth, labor-force growth and wage growth in 2021.” They found that mid-size cities, including “Nashville, Tenn., Raleigh, N.C.; Salt Lake City; and Jacksonville, Fla.” have the most robust job markets.
What is appealing about midsize cities besides robust job markets? Many have no taxes and moderate climates. Some have universities, low crime ratees, and thriving arts scenes. They offer far more than jobs.
Of course, some of us work from home. That makes it easier to live where we want instead of where we have to live. During the pandemic many who worked from home fled from cities like New York and L.A., moving to suburbs or rural areas.
For centuries people have moved in search of employment. U.S. companies have been moving headquarters, warehouses, offices, and factories overseas and to southern and western states for decades. That trend continues; Oracle Corp. and Tesla Inc. recently moved their headquarters from California to Austin, TX.
If you want to or have to move, you owe it to yourself to do your homework so you can target areas that you would prefer to live. It’s no fun learning the hard way that Scranton is no paradise. If you are graduating, you are probably the most flexible you will ever be. Why not make the most of it?
Are you likely to move soon? If so, is it because of a job? How would you figure out where you want to live?
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