These Are The Most Successful Cities In Each State

By McLeod Brown
Aug. 1, 2018

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Success is relative term, but for a lot of people, a fair portion of their success revolves around their job.

High incomes, low unemployment rates, and a good education – all these things can be categorized as “successful” measures.

This got us thinking: What are the most successful cities in each state? So we decided to find out.

Now, the purpose of this research isn’t to stir up any Hatfield–McCoy-esque feuds between neighboring cities. We just wanted to see what cities are the best for success.

You can find each state’s most successful city below, but first let’s check out the top 10.

These are the states with the top 10 most successful cities in the United States:

  1. Glencoe, Illinois
  2. Floris, Virginia
  3. Ladue, Missouri
  4. Bellaire, Texas
  5. Chevy Chase, Maryland
  6. Palos Verdes Estates, California
  7. Mountain Brook, Alabama
  8. Paradise Valley, Arizona
  9. The Village of Indian Hill, Ohio
  10. Lawrence, New York

All the names sound pleasant, so that’s a good start.

How we did it

Using data from the Census’ 2012-2016 American Community Survey PUMS dataset, we ranked cities in each state across three categories:

  • Median income
  • Unemployment rate
  • Education rate (percent of residents over age of 25 with a bachelor’s degree)

Each city was ranked on a scale of 1 to the number of cities in each state, and the three variables were averaged to produce an individual index. The lower the score, the better.

1. Glencoe, IL

  • Median income: $185,320
  • Unemployment rate: 1.5%
  • Education rate: 86.7%
  • Not even an hour outside Chicago, Glencoe ranks as the most successful city in America.

    All of the village’s figures are impressive – notably its median income of over $185k and unemployment rate of 1.5%.

    Known for its affluency, Glencoe offers a nice escape from the hustle and bustle of metro Chicago, but is also close enough to experience the city’s best qualities.

2. Floris, VA

  • Median income: $196,544
  • Unemployment rate: 1.4%
  • Education rate: 79.5%
  • Another suburb of a large metro, Floris is within an hour’s drive to the nation’s capital Washington, D.C, so whether you like the big city vibe or the suburban way of life, you’re in luck.

    With median incomes near $200k and unemployment rate of 1.4%, there are plenty of well-paying jobs in Floris and the surrounding areas.

3. Ladue, MO

  • Median income: $186,371
  • Unemployment rate: 2%
  • Education rate: 82.8%
  • We’re noticing a trend here with another area just minutes outside of a larger metro.

    Ladue sits nary 30 minutes outside St. Louis – one of the main economic hubs for the Midwest.

    With nearly 83% of adults over the age of 25 holding a bachelor’s degree, the highly educated area provides opportunities for workers to commute to and from St. Louis for work.

4. Bellaire, TX

  • Median income: $187,805
  • Unemployment rate: 2.1%
  • Education rate: 78.8%
  • Located just outside Houston, Bellaire offers large homes and a residential escape from the big city.

    The area’s median income sits above $187k and its unemployment rate is just at 2.1%.

    Pretty good figures right there.

5. Chevy Chase, MD

  • Median income: $162,351
  • Unemployment rate: 2.2%
  • Education rate: 84.3%
  • Another luxurious D.C. suburb, Chevy Chase offers residents a respite from the hustle and bustle of the nation’s capital.

    Residents here are highly educated, with nearly 85% of those aged over 25 having at least a bachelor’s degree.

    Commute into D.C. for work. Commute home to escape and relax.

6. Palos Verdes Estates, CA

  • Median income: $200,766
  • Unemployment rate: 2%
  • Education rate: 72.5%
  • The first area in our top 10 to crack the $200k median income, Palos Verdes Estates just sounds like a pleasant place to live.

    Located on a peninsula in California – the area also boasts a 2% unemployment rate.

    Working at the beach? Not such a bad life.

7. Mountain Brook, AL

  • Median income: $129,777
  • Unemployment rate: 1.9%
  • Education rate: 85.1%
  • An upper middle class suburb of Birmingham, Mountain Brooks’ residents are highly educated and mostly working (1.9% unemployment rate).

    Rolling hills and large houses paint the nicer side of Alabama.

8. Paradise Valley, AZ

  • Median income: $173,487
  • Unemployment rate: 2.4%
  • Education rate: 72.5%
  • I mean, need we say more than the name?

    Paradise Valley is exactly that – an affluent area on the outskirts of Scottsdale and Phoenix.

    With luxury golf courses, shopping areas, and a median income of over $170k, Paradise Valley offers a lot to their higher-end residents.

9. The Village of Indian Hill, OH

  • Median income: $205,221
  • Unemployment rate: 3%
  • Education rate: 88.1%
  • Boasting the top median income and top education rate of our top 10, a Google image search of the area tells you all about the standard of living there.

    Located outside Cincinnati, a median household income of $205,221 makes things a little less stressful for the residents of the village.

10. Lawrence, NY

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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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Topics: Research, Study