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The Best & Worst Cities for Finding a Job in 2021

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The Best & Worst Cities for Finding a Job in 2021

COVID has been tough on a lot of folks, particularly those who lost their job during the pandemic. Losing your job, of course, can be incredibly devastating, no matter how much you loved or hated it - because at least it helped get the bills paid and put food on the table! All things considered, however, it"s important not to give up hope if you lost a job, even if you"ve been searching for a while now.

When searching for a new job, opportunities are going to be different for nearly every city in the country. In one city, you might earn more money but the number of available positions might be fewer than in another. WalletHub conducted a study of 2021"s Best Cities for Jobs, based on the job market and socio-economics. The study includes over 180 cities and ranks them based on the number of job opportunities, employment growth, starting salary, and unemployment rate, among other factors.

If you are looking for a new job, we"ve highlighted some of the best options for the current job market as well as the worst. Although moving to a new city or state may not be ideal for everyone, you may just happen to live in, or nearby, a city where opportunities boundless. Here are the best and worst cities for finding a job in 2021.

The Best: South Burlington, VT
The Best: South Burlington, VT

South Burlington, Vermont came out on top on WalletHub"s list of the "Best Places to Find a Job." The city ranked #2 in socio-economics and #3 in the job market. Taking in factors such as unemployment rate, job security, job satisfaction, benefits, and full-time employment opportunities, as well as commute and housing affordability, South Burlington scored high enough in most of these categories, which makes it well-suited for its #1 spot.

Where South Burlington really excels is in, is having the fourth most job opportunities in the country, ahead of St. Louis, Missouri, but just below Charleston, South Carolina. Additionally, it has the fourth-lowest unemployment rate, which means plenty of its residents are finding work.

(Image via Pinterest)
The Best: Salt Lake City, UT
The Best: Salt Lake City, UT

Salt Lake City is another incredible place for finding employment. Salt Lake City, Utah boasts a #1 spot in terms of the job market and a #4 spot overall. When it comes to socio-economics, however, the city ranks #41.

Salt Lake City ranks #2 for having the most job opportunities. But while you may have more opportunities there, finding affordable housing and commuting can be a little more difficult. Also factored in is the median annual income which is around $45K per year in Salt Lake.

The Best: Chesapeake, VA
The Best: Chesapeake, VA

Chesapeake, Virginia ranks #9 overall as one of the best cities for finding a job. In the job market category, the city is at #9, while its socio-economics ranking is #22.

Tied with Virginia Beach, Chandler, Arizona and Plano, Texas, Chesapeake has the highest median income which is why the city has a fairly high socio-economic rating. The unemployment rate in the city is around 5% - lower than the national average that is 6.9% according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Best: Seattle, WA
The Best: Seattle, WA

Just under Chesapeake, Seattle, Washington comes in at #9 on WalletHub"s list. It has a #14 ranking in terms of the job market and #8 for socio-economics.

Seattle mostly impresses, when it comes to socio-economics, because it has one of the highest monthly average starting salaries. Currently, it is tied with cities like San Jose, California at around $6K – triple the average of the very worst cities on the list.

The Best: Plano, TX
The Best: Plano, TX

Plano, Texas has a ranking of #10 overall. It is #17 for the job market and #14 for the socio-economic factors. This is in part because Plano has one of the highest median annual salaries for its workers.

Undoubtedly, Plano"s job security, access to benefits, housing affordability, and other factors played a role in its position on the list. Nevertheless, there are also areas to improve such as the unemployment rate that has seen an increase in recent years.

(Image via Wikimedia)
The Best: Columbia, SC
The Best: Columbia, SC

Columbia, South Carolina is the second-largest city in the state and has a population of around 131,000 people. On WalletHub"s city ranking, it"s only #31 overall but it has a #12 rank for the job market and a top spot in a very crucial category.

Columbia may not have made the top 10 or even top 25 overall, but Columbia has its success where it matters. It has the most job opportunities of any city in the country. So, if you are looking for a new job in Columbia, you won"t be looking long. And you also won"t be working or commuting very long as the city offers one of the shortest average work and commute times – ranking 5th in that category.

The Best: Gilbert Arizona
The Best: Gilbert Arizona

Gilbert, Arizona is just under Columbia with a #13 ranking for its job market but it has a slightly better ranking in socio-economics. The unemployment rate is around 5% in a city with over 254,000 people in it.

Gilbert, Arizona has the highest median annual income in the country and that"s something to be proud of. Adjusted by the cost of living, the median annual income is $97,934. This is 3.5 times higher than the lowest median annual income.

The Best: Fremont, CA
The Best: Fremont, CA

Fremont, California is one of the largest cities in the San Francisco Bay Area. It has over 240,000 people and an unemployment rate of about 5%. That rate cut in half during the pandemic, which is pretty impressive.

One area where Fremont is tremendously strong is in its hiring of full-time employees.  Whereas other cities are keeping employees on part-time, Fremont has the fewest number of part-time employees for every 100 full-time employees on the payroll. This means employees aren"t getting the bare minimum; they are getting more money and also getting benefits.

(Image via Wikipedia)
The Best: Fargo, ND
The Best: Fargo, ND

You betcha! Fargo, North Dakota is certainly one of the best cities for finding a job, ranking #47 overall and in terms of the job market. For socio-economics, Fargo is #54.

While these ranking may not be the very highest, Fargo has an exceedingly crucial top spot when it comes to the unemployment rate. Fargo has one of the lowest unemployment rates, a 4.1 percent - don"t cha know! And under normal circumstances, it has been even lower. A year ago it was just 2.2%.

The Best: Tallahassee, FL
The Best: Tallahassee, FL

Who likes commuting far and working long hours? Not too many. But sometimes its necessary, but apparently not for those in Tallahassee, Florida.

Tallahassee is only #82 overall, but it has the second-lowest average commute and work time. So, if you are hoping for a more relaxing day-to-day schedule, Tallahassee may be your best bet. This is what gives it a slightly higher socio-economics score than its job market score.

The Worst: Detroit, MI
The Worst: Detroit, MI

Now, it"s time for the worst. Detroit, Michigan is easily one of the worst cities to find a job in all the ways that matter most. It ranks #180 out of #182.

One area where Detroit suffers is with the fewest number of job opportunities. Because of this, it also has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. It was last reported to be at 10.1%

The Worst: Irvine, CA
The Worst: Irvine, CA

Irvine, CA is one of the safest cities in the country but that doesn"t mean there"s a lot of work opportunity. In fact, in Irvine, most people have to commute outside of the city to find work unless they work in foodservice or retail.

Irvine ranks only #89 overall, which is hardly even the worst of the worst ratings. But when it comes to job growth, Irvine leaves much to be desired. It ranks #180 out of #182 in that respect. But its #21 score in socio-economics gives it the leg up in other respects. Nevertheless, there"s simply too much room for improvement to consider this one the best.

(Image via Wikipedia)
The Worst: Los Angeles, CA
The Worst: Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles is another terrible city for finding a job in California. Not only are opportunities extremely limited, but the unemployment rate is also quite alarming. In a city with almost 4 million people, an unemployment rate of 10.5% is simply unacceptable.

Ranking #176 for having the fewest job opportunities, if you lose your job in LA, you are pretty much out of luck – at least for the time being. To make matters worse, housing is just not affordable either. It is tied with Long Beach, California in the least affordable housing category.

The Worst: Newark, NJ
The Worst: Newark, NJ

Unless you work for the Sopranos, you aren"t likely to find much economic opportunity in Newark, New Jersey. The city has the lowest median annual income of anywhere in the country.

In 2020, the unemployment rate was as high as 22%. The poverty level has been around 29%. In overall ranking, Newark places #149 with a 130th place in job market and 173rd in socio-economics.

The Worst: New York, NY
The Worst: New York, NY

New York City and its population of over 8 million, make finding a job close by or anywhere quite difficult. New York City is tied with Los Angeles with the highest unemployment rate at over 10%. The people of New York also have the longest commutes and average work time.

To make matters worse, New York has the least affordable housing in the country. However, on the plus side, New York City does have the highest average starting salary, tied with San Jose. So, at least they have a little more money to pay the rent.

The Worst: Laredo, Texas
The Worst: Laredo, Texas

Laredo, Texas, home of over 260,000 residents, is not ideal if you are looking to make the big bucks. In Laredo, you are going to find you have the lowest annual starting salary of anywhere in the country.

Laredo ranks #165 overall with a #143 for its job market. It has a #175 ranking for socio-economics. To sum up, there are few places to work and not enough money to make a decent living. If you live in Laredo…probably, just don"t.

John D. Bunns Jr./Pictorial Parade/Archive Photos/Getty Images
The Worst: Tampa, Florida
The Worst: Tampa, Florida

Tampa, Florida is one of the worst places to find work in the state - and there are quite a few. Hialeah, Florida, in fact, is ranked dead last on the list. But while it is ranked only #62 overall, Tampa has one of the lowest employment growth rates in the country.

And that"s why we"ve decided to include Tampa rather than Hialeah on our list. That, and the fact that it has a population of almost 388,000 versus the 234,000+ people in Hialeah. In a city as big as Tampa, there should be a lot more opportunities.

The Worst: San Francisco, CA
The Worst: San Francisco, CA

It actually places 15th on WallHub"s overall list but San Francisco, California fails in two major ways. People are overworked and don"t have enough to pay their rent or mortgage.

San Francisco ranks #180 because it offers the least affordable housing. On top of that, it has people commuting and working longer hours to get the bills paid, ranking #182 in the longest work and commute time. Luckily, they do have one of the highest monthly average starting salaries which makes things a little easier.

The Worst: Burlington, VT
The Worst: Burlington, VT

Burlington is another city with the lowest employment growth. Over the last year, it only saw a growth of 0.6%. While the city is #1 in terms of socio-economic growth, it is only #133 for its job market.

Unemployment is less than 3% but there are only around 42,000 people, so that’s still a lot of people without jobs that still aren"t getting them. You are better off moving to South Burlington. Just saying.

The Worst: Boston, MA
The Worst: Boston, MA

Boston, Massachusetts is one of the best cities in the country, don"t get us wrong, but it"s just too expensive to not have a job in! It ranks #181 for having the least affordable housing. But like San Francisco, there are at least opportunities to make money with one of the highest average starting salaries.

Last year, the unemployment rate was as high as 15.5% but is now at over 6%. With that said, although living in Boston may be fine if you have a job, looking for work without an income is where life gets really tough, real fast. For a little more perspective, Boston ranks only #118 out of #182.

Author James Stephens Last Updated: February 02, 2021


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