Livability 2014: Jobs—Where to Grow Your Career

Dec 09, 2014 at 8:59 AM ET

Let’s face it: No other category in our Livability Index is more important—in the most practical sense—than how you’re going to pay for it all. There are going to be folks who don’t need to worry about cash, and to them we say, “Good for you! Can we get on that payroll, too?!” But for most of us, a solid job is the golden ticket to everything: a cool apartment or house, nice stuff, a season-ticket share or a weekend ski trip. And it’s often worth moving to land one.

With that in mind, consider Minneapolis. Fresh off a massive snowstorm and staring a long winter right in the face, Minnie doesn’t seem so welcoming, but hear us out: Apart from being No. 6 on our overall list, it tops the jobs category for the second highest median income, at $48,738 (sandwiched between No. 1 city Scottsdale and No. 3 San Francisco), and a tied-for-third unemployment rate of 3.8 percent. For comparison, the national rate was 5.8 percent for both October and November.

TOP 10 CITIES FOR JOBS: Best median salary, low unemployment and a growing job market

  1. Minneapolis, Minnesota
  2. Austin, Texas
  3. San Francisco, California
  4. Lincoln, Nebraska
  5. Raleigh, North Carolina
  6. Houston, Texas
  7. Madison, Wisconsin
  8. San Jose, California
  9. Fremont, California
  10. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Of course, not everyone wants to work in the health care industry, which is where lots of Minnesota’s growth is coming from. So if tech is more your interest, you’re in luck: Three Bay Area cities—San Francisco, San Jose and Fremont—fill out the top 10. San Fran has a strong median wage (apps are good business), just below Minneapolis, and Fremont sits at No. 7 on that list, but has a way cheaper cost of living. San Jose, farther south on the 101 freeway, offers 3.2 percent job growth—good for ninth overall out of our top 100 cities. Any of these offer myriad opportunities to work for a Silicon Valley startup, or even for networking to start your own.

But perhaps most interesting—and not necessarily reflected in the top 10, as only Austin and Houston make an appearance—is the massive job growth in Texas. Of the top 10 cities that show promising growth, five of them are from the Lone Star State, with Arlington, Dallas and Forth Worth rounding out the group—not one of them with less than 3.3 percent growth. And when you consider our other categories—inexpensive housing, gas, food, entertainment—Texas overall gets a gold star for affordability. The question now is whether you buy the boots before or after you get there.