These Are The 10 Hardest Working Small Cities In America

By Chris Kolmar - Apr. 14, 2016

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You might think that hard work can be measured, perhaps by the sweat on your brow, the calluses on your hands, the grunt hours you put in, or perhaps, by the quality of your finished product. You might measure it by the aches and pains in your back or the sleepless nights you spend thinking about that deadline. You might even imagine that hard work is subjective and can’t, in fact, be measured at all.

Well, you’d be wrong, because here at Zippia we have found a very non-subjective way to measure just how hard small cities all over the country are actually working. You might even call it objective.

We’ll get to our methodology in just a moment—first, here are the 10 hardest working small cities in the country:

  1. Highland Village, TX
  2. Plainfield, IL
  3. Suwanee, GA
  4. Snoqualmie, WA
  5. Westfield, NJ
  6. Glen Rock, NJ
  7. Kinnelon, NJ
  8. Ridgewood, NJ
  9. Scarsdale, NY
  10. Algonquin, IL

That’s right: two for Illinois and a whopping four for New Jersey. Keep reading to find out what these guys are doing differently than you. (Aside from probably not reading this article in the middle of a workday. Just sayin’ 🙂

How We Determined the Hardest Working Small Cities In The Good Ole U S of A

Like we said, here at Zippia we like to take opinions and hearsay and just toss them right out the window. We are all about data here—facts, figures, and don’t even get us started on our love for math—so when it came to finding the hardest working small cities, we did what we do best: we crunched the numbers.

In this particular case, we went to the latest version of the American Community Survey to uncover these 10 hardest working small cities. As luck would have it, the Census Bureau just released the 2009-2014 5-Yr Estimate, which makes this analysis the first of its kind with new data.

After scrolling through what seemed like hundreds of criteria, we settled on this set for each small city:

  • Average hours worked (longer is harder working)
  • Average commute time (longer is harder working)
  • Workers per household (Employed labor force divided by the number households) (higher is harder working)
  • Labor force participation rate (higher is harder working)
  • Adults with a college degree (higher is harder working)

Our thinking went something like this: if you took the time to get your degree, you are either working or actively seeking employment, when you are employed, you work your butt off, and you spend forever getting to work—you get the Zippia hardworking stamp of approval.

We gathered up data for over 2,200 small cities in America (we told you—we worked pretty hard on this one), and then ranked each place with scores from 1 to 2,273 in each category, where 1 was the “hardest working.”

Next, we averaged the rankings for each place to create a hardworking index.

Finally, we crowned the city with the lowest hard working index the “Hardest Working Small City In America.” We’re lookin’ at you, Highland.

So take a break and kick back as we dive into more detail about each place. If you’re on this list, you certainly deserve it.

1. Highland Village, TX

Hats off to this Dallas suburb — it came in first out of over 2,200 other contenders. Just why are residents so hard-working? Who knows—maybe there’s something in the water. But we can certainly tell you how they’re working hard.

First off, they have more workers per household than, oh, about 2,100 other places that we looked at. They’re also super well educated. But most impressive of all was the number of hours these guys work per week — 41.4 on average.

Really impressive. Now please, go take a vacation.

2. Plainfield, IL

The Village of Plainfield is made up of land in both Plainfield and Wheatland townships and has a total population of about 41,000. It is famous for birdwatching and was the hometown of actress Melissa McCarthy. What? Just a little background.

Okay, back to work—just like residents in Plainfield apparently like it. These guys have one of the longest average commute times (37 MINUTES!!!) in the country, and ranked at No. 56 (out of 2,273!) for their number of workers per household.

3. Suwanee, GA

Maybe at this point Suwanee residents are just sick of all the awards and accolades their small city is garnering—but we think not. After all, you guys have worked hard, and you deserve it. Aside from being one of the “Best Places to Live” (Money) and one of the “Best Places for Families” (Family Circle magazine), residents here also clock in the hours—40.9 on average per week.

They even go above and beyond when it comes to getting to work, traveling an average of 33 minutes each way!

4. Snoqualmie, WA

Remember how we mentioned Highland Village’s high number of hours worked per week, at 41.4? Well, say hello to Snoqualmie—where the average worker spends 41.6 hours on the clock.

Perhaps it’s because Washington is so expensive these days and people just have to work more—or maybe they just like it. They certainly have enough college degrees under their belts here to know what they’re doing. So keep up the good work!

5. Westfield, NJ

Ah, and so begins what we’ll call the reign of Jersey. Or, just the first of several hardworking towns in New Jersey. You know what we mean.

The reasons this Union County town ranked so well on our list were mostly its residents’ average commute time (35 minutes—what?!) and the high percentage of college grads (66 percent—whhaaattt?!) And of course 40 hours per week wouldn’t be enough for these hard workers—they work an average of 40.6.

6. Glen Rock, NJ

There’s a reason they call Glen Rock the Little Borough that Could… No, no, they don’t. I made that up. But for real, you guys should think about it. Because “could” this community certainly does—especially when it comes to education. Over 67 percent of residents have a college degree. Compare that to, say, the 5 percent in Benton Harbor, MI (oof) and you can see why Glen Rock ranked so well.

These guys also really know how to party! And by party, we mean commute to work. For a long, long time. So, good on you! Keep it up.

7. Kinnelon, NJ

Kinnelon is a borough that loves to work hard and play hard! Minus the playing part! Just kidding—but really, where would you find the time, devoted to the job for 40 hours on average per week, and stuck in the car for 35 minutes door to door? Seriously, where do you find the time? You guys are all really well educated—you do the math.

8. Ridgewood, NJ

Seriously—another place in New Jersey? What are you guys putting in the wat—wait, don’t tell us. Please don’t tell us.

Though Ridgewood doesn’t have quite as many workers per household on average, they more than make up for it with their absolutely bonkers commute time—38 MINUTES—and their crazy educated population—75 percent of residents hold a degree.

And would such driven citizens be content to work a mere 40 hour work-week? Of course not. These guys work 41.7.

9. Scarsdale, NY

Remember how you thought a 38 minute commute was insane? (Or, at least we did?) Well, Scarsdale will see that 38-minute commute and raise it—to an average of 44 minutes, there and back. Where is there, exactly? Most often, probably New York City—which might be another reason these guys work so hard. NYC is expensive.

Case in point: Scarsdale workers spend an average of 43.3 hours per week on the job just to make it work. I mean, really, work. But hey, with 87 percent of the population holding degrees, we think they know what they’re doing. (Either that or they’re all just minutes away from a nervous breakdown. Whichever.)

10. Algonquin, IL

Source: Wikipedia

Like the suburbs of New York City before it, we’re thinkin’ that residents in Algonquin might have to work so hard, simply because of their location. See, Algonquin is a suburb of Chicago—and if you’re working in Chicago every day, chances are it’s not just going to be your commute that’s bigger (which it is—it’s 37 minutes.) Your expenses will grow, too.

But that’s okay, they have tons of workers per household here, so, you know, more cars on the road for longer, which means more work for environmentalists…?

Yay, work!

Work It

Yay! You did it! You made it to the end! Now, we know we threw a lot numbers at you there, and some of this reading was probably hard work. But you’ve made it to the end. So now you can get back to whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing.

Happy working—and congratulations to our winners! (Please, please go take a vacation.)

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Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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