Where People Are Moving For Jobs Right Now

According to the most recent Harper’s Index, the restaurant industry is the single largest employer in the United States. But people don’t consider relocating for restaurant jobs, according to ZipRecruiter data.

Job postings that attracted applicants who lived elsewhere were mostly in tech and healthcare. But technology is luring people to only a small handful of metro areas, while healthcare jobs are tempting people to move to some unexpected places.

Tech Isn’t Booming in Flyover Country

The hoards of coders flocking to the San Francisco Bay Area have made national news, dramatically changing the face of the West Coast city. San Francisco- and Oakland-based programming and IT jobs drew thousands of applicants from in 2015. Applicants for Bay Area jobs came from around California, New York, Chicago, Boston and Houston.

With all of those handsomely paid tech wizards moving in, housing costs in San Francisco and Oakland have catapulted to a height that few can reach. Now it seems that the wizards are also struggling to make rent. There were nearly half as many tech applicants living in San Francisco looking to relocate for work in the once remote suburbs of Vallejo and Stockton as there were out-of-towners trying to get a leg up in the city.

Some headed to Portland, Oregon, whose information sector growth has actually outpaced San Francisco’s, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Housing costs there have also hit the roof.

Tech jobs are luring people to the greater Washington, D.C., area, including Baltimore, and to some extent to Boston and Seattle. But the industry isn’t powering economic heydays beyond the West Coast: Growth has crept up in Los Angeles and barely budged in Boston. The information sector actually shrank in D.C.

The promised tech 2.0 hubs including Kansas City and Austin are also more hype than reality. Kansas City drew just a trickle of applicants from major urban centers. Austin tempted twice as many, but most applications came from nearby San Antonio.

Even in the talked-about host of SxSW Interactive, healthcare jobs were nearly as big a draw as technology.

Healthcare Is Where It’s At

That’s the big story. While tech gets the buzz, work in healthcare is booming in all kinds of places and tempting more people to move.

As of May 2015, healthcare jobs represent nearly 10 percent of all jobs in the United States. All STEM jobs combined only tallied to 6 percent. Tech jobs may get the buzz simply because they pay better. A STEM job pays about twice as much on average as any other American job. But registered nurses earn nearly as much as the brogrammers — and arguably contribute more to society.

What’s driving the growth in healthcare? Most likely Obama’s signature health reform, some experts say. As more people have gotten insurance coverage, more have gone to the doctor. And as more people go to the doctor, more doctors and nurses and billing specialists get hired.

The cities that drew most out-of-town applicants for their 2015 healthcare jobs, according to ZipRecruiter data, were New York, greater L.A. (including Riverside, Long Beach and San Bernardino), Baltimore-Towson, MD, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. and its Virginia suburbs.

Baltimore-Towson, home to Johns Hopkins medical center, tempted twice as many applicants as the old medical stalwart, Boston.

Florida, with its aging population, drew tens of thousands of out-of-town applicants for healthcare jobs in a string of urban areas, including Tampa-St. Pete, Daytona Beach and Sarasota-Bradenton. Home health services was the fastest growing segment of the industry last year, and these places seem likely to reflect that trend, too. (In-home health work is the lowest paid of all health positions.)

Some of the old pharma hotspots outside New York City are seeing a rebirth. Several southern Connecticut cities and Trenton, NJ, brought in big stacks of out-of-town applications for healthcare jobs.

Once depressed Trenton brought in applications not just from New York and Philadelphia but also from Chicago, Boston, D.C. and Los Angeles. The Jersey city’s job market started to grow fast at the end of last year, BLS data indicates, led by jobs in health and education services.

So if you want to get a jump on the next “it” place to be, it might be time to think about Florida or one of those two long-hated cities, Baltimore and Trenton, NJ.

Written by

A former contributor to the ZipRecruiter blog, Cameron Scott is a science writer living in San Francisco, California.

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