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Best Cities for Job Hunting
Everyone knows that times are tough, and that they probably are getting tougher. The jobless rate nationwide is inching toward double digits. But there are some bright spots.
Forbes lists the top 10 places in America to get a job. Each of these cities had unemployment rates in October 2008 that were well below the national average of 6.5 percent.
Topping the list is Madison, Wis., which had an unemployment rate of only 3.5 percent. Madison has several attributes that help it weather a tough job market, starting with the University of Wisconsin. The university is a major employer, especially through its technology arm, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. In addition, Madison is the capital of Wisconsin and the county seat, making state and local governments big job-creators. Finally, the city has a highly educated workforce, in large part because of the university, which makes it an excellent place for companies large and small to set up shop.
Next is the nation’s capital, with an unemployment rate of 4.2 percent. Not surprisingly, government is the main employer in Washington, D.C. But it is far from the only game in town. There also is a lot of work for lawyers, for example. And Washington is home to several colleges, universities and private schools, making education among the area’s largest employers. In fact, about 30,000 new education jobs are expected to be created in the D.C. area in 2009.
Tied for third is Boston, with 4.4 percent unemployment. Like Washington, Boston’s employment strength comes in large part from the many educational institutions located there. Many of those institutions also have teaching hospitals, which makes the health care industry another strong employer. And, the abundance of highly educated employees attracts a variety of other businesses as well.
Employment diversification is the name of the game in Richmond, Va., which also had an unemployment rate of 4.4 percent. Richmond gains employment opportunities from the many military bases in the area, and it is close enough to Washington, D.C., to have government jobs. It is the state capital, and it also has jobs in a variety of traditional fields, such as accounting and manufacturing.
Milwaukee, Wis., had an unemployment rate of 4.8 percent. It has experienced a surge in health-care-related jobs, adding about 30,000 in the past year. In addition, several companies that had been based in Chicago have moved about an hour north, to Milwaukee, to cut costs.
Pittsburgh has seen a loss in manufacturing jobs in the last year, but its unemployment rate still was only 5 percent. That’s because the city still has strong employment opportunities in several fields, especially education and health care.
Baltimore, which had an unemployment rate of 5.1 percent, benefits from its close proximity to Washington, D.C. It also added jobs in the last year in the areas of professional services, business services and education.
Although there are relatively few blue-collar jobs in Seattle, which had an unemployment rate of 5.3 percent, the Emerald City remains a good place to look for a job in the biotech and health care industries.
Energy jobs, especially in the oil and gas industries, continue to bolster the job market in Houston, which had an unemployment rate of 5.4 percent. However, the city also added 11,100 jobs last year in the government sector.
Like Houston, Dallas boasts job opportunities in the fields of energy and government. But it also has information technology jobs that helped it to a below-average unemployment rate of 5.6 percent.