These Are The Best Job Markets In America For 2018

By McLeod Brown
Jun. 14, 2018

Find a Job You Really Want In

Although wishful thinking allows us to imagine how great it’d be to get paid for doing nothing, the stats don’t lie – you need to work to make money. Unless you’re the Kardashians, maybe?

Either way, with the economy roaring and the job market being the best its been in some time, we wanted to delve into the metro areas that are the best job markets for those seeking work.

We already looked at what the best colleges are for landing you a job in 2018. Now let’s look at what the best job markets are.

These are the 10 best metro job markets in America for 2018:

  1. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
  2. San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA
  3. Odessa, TX
  4. Midland, TX
  5. Charleston-North Charleston, SC
  6. Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford, VA
  7. Florence, SC
  8. Ann Arbor, MI
  9. Waterloo-Cedar Falls, IA
  10. Roanoke, VA

Good news is the best job markets are pretty spread out – west coast, south, midwest – they’re all over. So you don’t need to already be living in California to exclusively reap the rewards of a healthy local economy.

How we determined the best job markets in the US of 2018

To find the metros with the best job markets in the country, one could look at their unemployment rate to gain a general understanding of if that place is good to work or not. But we thought that’s too simplistic and surface-level.

Credit goes to the always reliable Bureau of Labor Statistics for the data.

Looking at 386 different metro areas, we ranked each 1 to 386 in three categories – wage change, unemployment rate change, and current unemployment rate – one being best, 386 being worst.

The average of the three numbers was then used to produce a final ranking of each metro area. The lower number the average, the better job market.

Read on for a closer look at the top 10 metros, then a list of the top 100 at the bottom.

1. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA

  • Employed population: 1,089,070
  • Unemployment rate: 2.4%
  • Annual mean wage: $78,990
  • When people think of Silicon Valley, they often think of San Francisco. But it’s really San Jose they should be thinking of.

    The city acts as the cultural center of the tech-bustling community. Surrounding areas Sunnyvale and Santa Clara round out the metro with an average 2017 wage of $78,990.

    That’s nice.

2. San Luis-Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA

  • Employed population: 116,630
  • Unemployment rate: 2.6%
  • Annual mean wage: $48,740
  • If you still like California weather and a hot job market, but aren’t a fan of big cities, San Luis Obispo county may be the spot for you.

    With a working population about one-tenth the size of San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, the county offers a more laid-back vibe, but still has only a 2.6% unemployment rate.

3. Odessa, TX

  • Employed population: 68,280
  • Unemployment rate: 2.8%
  • Annual mean wage: $47,160
  • Odessa has the smallest employed population of the top 10 metro areas, but boasts the
    10th best wage change of the entire list of 386 areas.

    Oil is big in the area so with the oil boom came a number of jobs.

    Side note: If you haven’t treated yourself to Friday Night Lights, the movie based off Odessa’s 1988 Permian High School football season, you should do that.

4. Midland, TX

  • Employed population: 88,270
  • Unemployment rate: 2.1%
  • Annual mean wage: $53,190
  • Separated by less than a half hour from Odessa, Midland also offers a great job market for prospective workers.

    The city’s employment largely fluctuates with the petroleum industry, similar to Odessa.

    The 88,270 employed people in Midland rake in an average salary of $53,190.

5. Charleston-North Charleston, SC

  • Employed population: 336,560
  • Unemployment rate: 2.3%
  • Annual mean wage: $44,500
  • Charleston is gorgeous. No denying that. If you haven’t yet visited the southern city to bring in the sights, you’re missing out.

    With the second largest employed population in the top 10, Charleston boasts a healthy job market, with an unemployment rate of 2.3%

    Check out some of the best paying jobs in the city here.

6. Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford, VA

  • Employed population: 69,370
  • Unemployment rate: 2.9%
  • Annual mean wage: $42,960
  • Home to Virginia Tech, the best college in Virginia for getting its grads jobs, future Hokie alums need not go far for looking for employment.

    With scenic mountain views, a rowdy Lane Stadium, and Radford just right down the road, the metro area has a lot to offer people outside of work.

    The area’s 69,370 working individuals bring home an average annual salary of $42,960.

7. Florence, SC

  • Employed population: 84,850
  • Unemployment rate: 3.2%
  • Annual mean wage: $41,010
  • Florence is fairly equidistant between Charlotte and Charleston, making it a great place for financial corporations and medical centers to house their regional operations.

    The metro also boasts the sixth-best wage increase over the past year for the entire list of 386 metros.

8. Ann Arbor, MI

Source: Wikipedia User AndrewHorne | CC BY 3.0
  • Employed population: 213,990
  • Unemployment rate: 2.8%
  • Annual mean wage: $56,160
  • Go Blue! The home of the Michigan Wolverines continues to grow its economy in the right direction. The University of Michigan is consistently ranked as one of the top schools in the country, and graduates don’t have to look for to find a solid job market.

    The average annual salary for working individuals in the metro is $56,160, second-highest in the top 10 best job markets.

9. Waterloo-Cedar Falls, IA

  • Employed population: 88,160
  • Unemployment rate: 2.7%
  • Annual mean wage: $41,450
  • Waterloo has a lot of job openings at great starting salaries. With the unemployment rate sitting at 2.7%, it’s a good time to get a job in the city.

    The University of Northern Iowa is located in Cedar Falls, too, offering a solid educational and cultural aspect to the region

10. Roanoke, VA

  • Employed population: 152,640
  • Unemployment rate: 2.9%
  • Annual mean wage: $43,650
  • Rounding out the top 10 is Roanoke, located in southwestern Virginia near the Shenandoah Valley.

    Located near Virginia Tech, Roanoke offers a lot of public sector jobs, given it has Roanoke College and Hollins University nearby.

    The unemployment rate of the region sits at 2.9%.

And there you have it: The top 10 job markets for 2018. If you’re looking for a job in any of these areas, chances are you’ll find one.

Now, for the top 100, check out this table!

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Never miss an opportunity that’s right for you.


McLeod Brown

McLeod Brown is a former writer and researcher for the Zippia Career Advice blog. His work at Zippia focused on understanding the relationship between colleges, debt, and jobs. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington with a BA in Business Administrator, he is now pursuing a masters of science in analytics from the Institute of Advanced Analytics.

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