The 10 Best U.S. Job Markets in 2014

The number one city for finding a job in the first quarter of 2014 was Salt Lake City, Utah according to the new ZipRecruiter National Jobs Index. After Salt Lake City, Omaha, NE, Madison, WI, and Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN take up spots two, three, and four of the top 5, with Des Moines, IA, rounding out the top of the list at number five.

How did we arrive at these findings?

By helping thousands of small and medium-sized companies connect with millions of job seekers over the years, we’ve seen first-hand the job-creating power of local and regional businesses. We’ve found that while big cities like Chicago and Los Angeles may have many job postings by volume, open jobs do not necessarily make a great job market, especially if unemployment outstrips job creation.

With that in mind, we wanted to look beyond job posting volume as an indicator of job market strength. We identified what we feel are the best places to look for a job in the U.S. this year, using the volume of job postings on ZipRecruiter as a starting point, and then sorting the top 50 metro areas by unemployment rate and industries that are experiencing strong job creation in those markets.

Other Key Findings:

The best region for finding a job overall was the South, which had 23 of the top 50 job markets and an average unemployment rate of 5.5%, followed by the Midwest with 13 of the top 50 and an average unemployment rate of 5.4%. The West ranks third, with 10 of the top 50 and an average unemployment rate of 5.4%. The Northeast ranks fourth with 4 of the top 50, and an average unemployment rate of 6.35%.

We also looked at the most popular jobs as posted on the site, and discovered some key regional differences. The top five categories Nationwide are Sales, Healthcare, Trucking, IT, and Insurance. Regionally, the picture changes: though Sales jobs are strong in three of the four regions, the other rankings vary. The top job categories in the South are Sales, IT, and Engineering; Sales, Trucking, and Healthcare in the Midwest; Sales, IT, and Engineering in the West; and IT, Engineering, and Healthcare in the Northeast.

We’ve taken an in-depth look at the ten best cities for jobs below, including a spotlight job and its median salary* for each city:

#1 Salt Lake City, Utah

With an unemployment rate that’s more than three points below the national average, Salt Lake City is the best job market in the U.S., according to our National Jobs Index.

It’s been listed as one of Forbes “Best Places for Business and Careers”, and is a regional center for education, transport, and government services.

Spotlight Job:
Sales Director
Median Salary: $135,021
Unemployment Rate: 3.5%
Median Home Price: $247,600
Cost of Living Index: 93

#2 Omaha, Nebraska

Nebraska’s largest city boasts an unemployment rate of 3.9%, and a thriving IT and telecom sector. The home of super investor Warren Buffet, Omaha was ranked 8th in a USA Today list of the top cities with the highest number of billionaires per capita, and also ranked 8th in the number of Fortune 500 companies based in the city.

Spotlight Job:
IT Project Manager
Median Salary: $69,233
Unemployment Rate: 3.9%
Median Home Price: $125,100
Cost of Living Index: 82


#3 Madison, Wisconsin

Home of the University of Wisconsin and the state capital, Madison’s historically low unemployment rate and quality of life continues to attract job seekers. The city has recently begun evolving away from a government-centric economy to a high-tech and health care-focused job market.

Spotlight Job:
Registered Nurse
Median Salary: $62,591
Unemployment Rate: 4%
Median Home Price: $191,600
Cost of Living Index: 100


#4 Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota

The Twin Cities’ vibrant economy and low unemployment rate attract highly skilled workers from across the country. Home of five Fortune 500 companies, Minneapolis-St. Paul has been listed as one of Kiplinger’s “Smart Places to Live”, and was named as one of “Seven Cool Cities” for recent college grads.

Spotlight Job:
Software Developer I
Median Salary: $60,195
Unemployment Rate: 4.3%
Median Home Price: $157,600
Cost of Living Index: 101


#5 Des Moines, Iowa

The capital of the Hawkeye State was ranked first on the 2010 and 2013 Forbes list of the “Best Places for Business and Careers”. A center of recession-proof industries such as insurance and health care, Des Moines was recently ranked “Wealthiest City in America” by NBC News.

Spotlight Job:
Online Advertising Manager
Median Salary: $76,831
Unemployment Rate: 4.4%
Median Home Price: $106,200
Cost of Living Index: 80


#6 Austin, Texas

The “Live Music Capital of the World” continues to create high tech jobs at an impressive pace. Austin was ranked #1 on the 2012 Forbes list of the “Best Big Cities for Jobs” and was ranked #1 on the WSJ Marketwatch list of top cities for growing businesses. The city is also home to more than 85 biotech firms, leading the Milken Institute to rank Austin as one of the top biotech and life science centers in the U.S.

Spotlight Job:
Systems Analyst (Mid-Level)
Median Salary: $65,661
Unemployment Rate: 4.5%
Median Home Price: $320,000
Cost of Living Index: 92




#7 Baton Rouge, Louisiana

The home of the Louisiana State University and the state capital, Baton Rouge has been named one of the “Top 10 Places for Young Adults” by Portfolio Magazine, and one of the top 20 cities in North America for economic strength by Brookings. Its strong energy and transportation sectors are a reliable source of solid blue collars jobs.

Spotlight Job:
Truck Driver
Median Salary: $40,682
Unemployment Rate: 4.5%
Median Home Price: $169,000
Cost of Living Index: 84


#8 Springfield, Missouri

With a low unemployment rate and broad base of industries, Springfield is a solid Midwestern job market which accounts for almost 7% of the economic activity of the state of Missouri. A regional medical center, Springfield was ranked as a “Best Performing City” for creating jobs by the Milken Institute.

Spotlight Job:
Environmental Engineer
Median Salary: $90,735
Unemployment Rate: 4.6%
Median Home Price: $108,300
Cost of Living Index: 82


#9 Irvine, California

This Southern California economic powerhouse hosts the headquarters of a number of national high tech firms, and is also the home of the University of California – Irvine, giving it a broad base of economic activity which excels at creating jobs. Irvine has also been named on of America’s 10 Best Places to Live by Money Magazine.

Spotlight Job:
Senior Software Engineer
Median Salary: $117,171
Unemployment Rate: 4.6%
Median Home Price: $756,700
Cost of Living Index: 145


#10 New Orleans, Louisiana

The Crescent City continues its recovery from Hurricane Katrina with low unemployment and strong job growth. While tourism drives much of the city’s economy, the Port of New Orleans and the healthcare and energy sectors also contribute to job growth.

Spotlight Job:
Structural Engineer
Median Salary: $103,217
Unemployment Rate: 4.7%
Median Home Price: $159,000
Cost of Living Index: 92



*Median salary data via MSA unemployment numbers via January 2014 BLS data. Cost of Living index via AreaVibes.

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Scott Garner

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Scott Garner is ZipRecruiter's Senior Corporate Communications Manager and a regular contributor to the ZipRecruiter blog.

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