Cities Full of Good Jobs and Happy Employees

By Jake Schroeder
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Photo Courtesy: Phillip Capper/Flickr

Everyone who has to work for a living wants to feel a satisfied rush at work every day. Whether the primary need is high pay, plentiful job opportunities, challenging and rewarding work or something else entirely, some cities are statistically better for the gainfully employed than others.

Not happy with your current work situation? The cities on this list attract high achieving workers of all stripes in every field. If you’re not happy with your employer or the state of the job market in your city, maybe one of these top cities could be your new home. Take a look!

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Miami, FL

Based on a nationwide survey conducted by job search site kununu, Miami came in at the top of the list for happiest employees. The site relied on criteria like employee job satisfaction, challenging nature of the work and the competitiveness of the job market.

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Photo Courtesy: Ricardo's Photography/Flickr

Beyond these metrics, it’s important to keep in mind factors like cost of living (no state income tax in Florida!), conditions in the city itself (Miami = hot people for days), weather (year-round warmth and sun), strength of the local economy (bustling metropolis) and other factors that generally affect happiness.

Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles certainly isn't for everyone, but that’s true for any big city. That said, when you talk about what is appealing about L.A., you don't have to think too hard: the weather, the weather, the weather. Oh, yeah, have you heard about the weather in L.A.?

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Photo Courtesy: Nserrano/Wikimedia Commons

In all seriousness, Los Angeles is more than just year-round sun. It’s a bustling metropolis that offers an abundance of high paying jobs, top-notch nightlife and the chance to rub elbows with celebrities at all types of local businesses and venues. In-demand job candidates could certainly do worse than the City of Angels.

Raleigh, NC

If you have never been to North Carolina, you don't know what you're missing. The mountain air, year-round temperate weather and proximity to breathtaking mountain scenery are just a few reasons high achievers who also like to relax in their downtime flock to the state.

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Photo Courtesy: 4512 Image Hosting/Flickr

Raleigh is the capital city of North Carolina, and it offers an abundance of high paying jobs in finance, technology and a slew of other industries. Known as the "City of Oaks," it’s a mid-size city that has a small-town feel without all the headache-inducing traffic or the other big problems that come with living in the big city.

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Louisville, KY

This is one of the main cities on the list that you probably never would have guessed was full of happy, gainfully-employed young people — unless you have already visited Louisville, of course. Positioned on the Ohio River, it’s Kentucky's largest city and is home to Churchill Downs, the track where the Kentucky Derby is held each year.

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Photo Courtesy: Scott Oves/Flickr

In other words, there’s plenty to do for fun in Louisville, but there’s not so much going on that the residents have to deal with big-city problems like traffic, rampant poverty and insanely high crime rates. This middle ground makes for a nice working and living environment.

Omaha, NE

Yet another sleeper city, Omaha probably isn't well known outside the Midwestern United States — unless you’re a big Warren Buffett fan, that is. It’s home to an eclectic array of activities, from the annual College Baseball World Series to an up-and-coming food scene, and the nightlife is more poppin' than you might imagine.

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Photo Courtesy: Tony Webster/Flickr

While the primary industries in Omaha — transportation, agriculture, insurance, healthcare — aren't necessarily as sexy as Wall Street (for example), these industries are essential, consistent and offer plenty of lucrative employment opportunities. Many may not buy happiness, but it can certainly enhance it.

San Jose, CA

San Jose has a high standard to live up to, biblically speaking. It’s named after Saint Joseph — you know, the guy who married Jesus' mom. Fortunately, it does a heck of a job living up to that standard, as it’s nestled right by the Palo Alto hills and offers weather that can only be described as saintly.

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Photo Courtesy: XAtsukex/Wikimedia Commons

Considering San Jose's proximity to Palo Alto and Silicon Valley, it has become a hotbed for those who want to make a lot of money. Even better, the area continues to increase in attractiveness as more high achievers settle there.

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Sacramento, CA

Sacramento doesn't get the publicity that California cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego get, but it offers a host of qualities that make it attractive to its resident employees. The state capital was voted "America's Most Diverse City" in 2002.

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Photo Courtesy: No Author Given/Pixabay

Residents particularly enjoy Old Sacramento, a part of town with an old-school aesthetic that harkens back to the state's Gold Rush days. Those who choose to work in Sacramento enjoy the small-town feel while reaping all the benefits that California is known for, including year-round sun and proximity to a bevy of different geographies.

Oklahoma City, OK

While residents across the nation may not always understand why people want to work in less bustling states like Oklahoma, the fact remains that most residents of Oklahoma City choose to live there for good reason. Financially speaking, a vibrant economy and an abundance of quality jobs are big attractions.

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Photo Courtesy: Senior Airman Mark Hybers/US Air Force

Industries of note in Oklahoma City include aerospace and aviation, biotech, and energy, all of which offer jobs that pay quite well on the low end and pay wealth building salaries on the high end. You will have to deal with about 6 inches of annual snow, but the residents don't seem to mind — once they get used to it.

Seattle, WA

Like every city, Seattle isn’t perfect, but it has a lot of positive aspects, and its residents are among the happiest in the nation. Not bad for a city so filled with rain, right? Amazon's decision to establish its headquarters in Seattle has only improved what was already a strong job market.

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Photo Courtesy: Tiffany Von Arnim/Flickr

Major businesses like Starbucks also have their roots in Seattle, and the city offers plenty of opportunities for local employees (and residents) to enjoy a high quality of life. If you can stand the rain, Seattle offers a hard-to-beat combination of natural beauty, cool local venues and activities, well-paying jobs — and the Space Needle, of course.

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Fresno, CA

Fresno goes by the tagline "The Best Little City in the U.S.A.," and many residents will swear that it’s true. Agriculture is the primary industry in Fresno as well as other cities in California's Central Valley region, and those who choose to work in Fresno often go there with a green thumb in tow.

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Photo Courtesy: David Jordan/Wikimedia Commons

Many of the cities on this list aren't for everyone, of course. Someone born to work on Wall Street probably wouldn't find Fresno appealing, but most people who live and work in Fresno love it, which is why it holds a spot on this list.

Orlando, FL

Mental Floss compiled a list of the "Best Cities for Jobs" in the United States, and Orlando was near the top. Obviously, simply being home to Walt Disney World provides plenty of steady employment opportunities, but Orlando is about much more than just Disney.

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It’s a college town with a lively downtown scene that has the undeniable youthful feel that only a large college town can have. Even better, Orlando doesn't have as much crime and other big-city problems as other major Florida cities like Miami. The variety of local industries and the fun factor make Orlando a top pick.

Scottsdale, AZ

Scottsdale, AZ, placed high on WalletHub's rankings of the "Best Cities for Jobs in the U.S." in 2019, which was based on a 30-metric ranking that included socioeconomic outlook and the relative health of each particular job market. So, what is it about Scottsdale that makes it ripe for healthy, happy employment?

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Well, a dope downtown city center doesn't hurt (see the picture). A healthy tax environment certainly doesn't hurt either, and if you like warm weather, then Scottsdale certainly won't disappoint. It’s a tech job hotspot, with industries like semiconductor manufacturing and aerospace engineering creating a thriving job market.

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New York, NY

Yes, the Big Apple is full of overworked, underpaid cubicle slaves, but the flip side is also true for countless New York City workers who wouldn’t even consider working anywhere else. The opportunity to make it big and make enough money to propel you through the rest of your career is unrivaled by other cities.

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Photo Courtesy: Zsubio/Pixabay

In New York, you can get everything you want in terms of cuisine, nightlife and other forms of entertainment. Broadway, Central Park, the Hamptons and numerous golf courses offer leisurely outlets for those who work in the city and need plenty of time to play.

San Francisco, CA

San Francisco is one of the most — maybe the most — expensive cities in America. However, most people who work there are able to live there because they make large amounts of money. They also choose to live there because it’s one of the most competitive job markets in the country, which also works to keep salaries high.

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Additionally, most workers in the city are happy, maybe because unbelievable sites are available to both the north and south, whether you want to head to wine country or sunny Monterrey. Some are lucky enough to live in the scenic areas surrounding San Francisco while still making city-size salaries.

Chandler, AZ

Heading back to WalletHub's rankings based on a varied matrix of criteria, Chandler, AZ, ranks as one of the best places to find a job and work in 2019. It ranked high both in terms of job market strength and socioeconomic outlook, and that’s just for starters.

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Chandler has nearly ideal weather for those who don't mind the heat, and its proximity to those mind-blowing rock formations that populate the Arizona desert make weekend exploring getaways a breeze. There is a lot to like about Chandler for those who live and work there. Listening, job hunters?

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Boston, MA

Forget any "Masshole" stereotypes that may be holding you back from exploring Boston as a potential long-term destination. Not only does it have some of the coolest sites of any big city in America — Fenway Park, the Harbor, Bodega, etc. — but it doesn't have many of the headaches of larger cities like New York or L.A.

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Photo Courtesy: Riptor3000/Wikimedia Commons

Plus, Boston is absolutely teeming with innovation, making it a city with some of the most intellectually challenging jobs you can find. Because it’s home to world-renowned universities like MIT, the city is populated by many high achievers.

Washington, D.C.

The capital of the United States of America is full of people who love what they do, despite the ample criticism you may hear about D.C. In fact, those who work in government are often fulfilled by their line of work, and the city also offers a bevy of professional avenues for those in the private sector.

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Photo Courtesy: USCapitol/Flickr

The memorials alone make D.C. a pleasure to live in when you’re looking for leisure activities, and the museums are always top-notch. Residents can pad their high paying jobs with high enjoyment activities, from golf to a superb local food scene. The nightlife isn't bad at all, either.

Plano, TX

The closest major city to Plano, TX, is Dallas, but it would be a stretch to call Plano a suburb. Although the city is very much its own entity, it has a suburban feel, and WalletHub ranked it the fifth best job market in the United States. Texas is known for its free markets, and Plano embodies that perception.

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Like many Texas cities, it has that quaint feeling of a big-small town. You have those gorgeous rolling Texas hills within driving distance as well as the benefits that come with big cities — lots of good jobs, lots of good food and lots of good schools.

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Denver, CO

Denver is one of the epicenters of the cannabis revolution in the United States, and recreational legalization comes with jobs — lots and lots of jobs. And the jobs that are available are of a very rewarding, mentally stimulating sort, if you catch my drift.

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If you’re employed in Denver, let's just say you won’t have to settle for working at a fast food joint. Beyond dispensaries, the area has ski resorts, outdoor guides and a host of professional avenues that aren't even possible in much of the United States. You could certainly do worse than working in Denver.

Columbia, MD

You may have already connected the dots that Columbia, MD, is in close proximity to the District of Columbia, a.k.a. Washington, D.C. That’s why scenic Columbia is on this list, as the District provides a job supply that only gets greater and greater as the government inevitably grows.

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Photo Courtesy: Karol Olson/Flickr

However, those who live in Columbia don't have to lay their heads down at night, only to be kept awake by the hustle and bustle of the city. That's what the 'burbs are all about, and that's what makes Columbia an attractive home for D.C. commuters.

Austin, TX

In Austin, the people actually pledge to "keep it weird." If "it" has anything to do with the local job market, then "weird" must be a synonym for "booming." Austin is one of the most famous and most populous college towns in the country, and that means local employees get all the perks of living and working in a town where the cash flows freely.

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Whether you want to check out the college ladies and hunks, hit all hipster-run craft breweries or dig into the vibrant and varied food scene, you can live the dream as a resident of Austin. Oh, and don’t forget to audit that class you wish you took back in college.

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Minneapolis, MN

If you can tolerate the winters, then Minneapolis may be the place for you if you’re hunting for a new job. According to Monster.com, Minny was the sixth best city for millennials to find a job during the year 2019. And why not? The people sure are nice and friendly, which makes all those interviews so much more appealing.

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Beyond the Minnesota hospitality, the state's capital city is easy on commuters and has a varied job market. Additionally, crime rates are low, and houses are affordable. As with other cities, Minneapolis has the variety that desirable employees demand in terms of dining and nightlife.

Madison, WI

Seeing yet another college town on this list is no coincidence. Cities like Madison offer all the vibrancy that naturally arises when a large population of youthful people move into an area. College kids do more than go to class, and their presence keeps restaurants and nightlife top-notch and relevant.

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Madison is also home to the state capital, giving residents a whole other avenue for employment in the public sector. Those who visit Madison leave impressed, almost without exception, and many of them end up returning for work. That's why Monster ranked Madison ninth on its list of best cities for millennials.

Nashville, TN

Many of the cities on this list are growing at a rapid clip, and Nashville is no exception. This is important because growth almost always signals a thriving job market as well as the promise that the job market will continue to strengthen. Nashville has become increasingly popular — think of it as the Southern embodiment of cool.

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Whether you want to take in a country concert at the Grand Ole Opry, attend a game for one of Nashville's professional sports teams, sample an already great and ever-improving array of restaurants or just hang out — maybe even with celebrities! — Nashville has it all for professionals of all ages.

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Salt Lake City, UT

Indeed ranked the best cities for job seekers in 2019, and Salt Lake City cracked the top 10. Just so you know, "best cities for job seekers" can generally be translated as "cities with the highest paying jobs that won't steal your soul." Salt Lake City checks several boxes in this respect.

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Specifically, it ranks high in terms of average salary, aggregate company reviews, unemployment rate and self-reported job favorability. Sure, it may get pretty cold, but access to world-class skiing is less than an hour away, and that Mormon church is pretty darn cool looking.

San Diego, CA

San Diego is one of those cities that ranks high in terms of pure, job-related metrics. It has a strong economic climate with an abundance of jobs (military included), and people generally report being happy at their San Diego-based places of work.

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Photo Courtesy: JillWellington/Pixabay

That said, the real reason that San Diego makes this list is how beautiful, temperate and full of life the city always feels. Whether you want to hit the beach, check out the mansions in La Jolla, hit up a Padres game or play golf at Pebble Beach, you have to be a real grump not to enjoy the magic of San Diego.

Indianapolis, IN

Another Midwestern jewel, Indiana is great for job seekers who are willing to plow through some snow in the winter. Who isn't dreaming of a white Christmas, anyway? Indianapolis was anchored in its position on Indeed's rankings by a high number of positive company reviews.

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Photo Courtesy: Serge Melki/Flickr

That said, the city also has an above average unemployment rate and a competitive job market, both indicators that job hunters could find well-paying, challenging positions in the area. The city is known as "Indy" or "Naptown," thanks to unique events like the Indy 500. It also has a couple of pro sports teams adding to its appeal.

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Portland, ME

If Portland, ME, wasn’t already on your list of cities where you should look for a job, you're definitely not alone. But just because no one talks about it, doesn’t mean the opportunity isn’t real. According to certain metrics, Portland has the eighth-ranked job market — not in its state, but in the entire country. That’s pretty darn impressive for a town most people can’t find on a map.

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It offers a lot of jobs that allow you to work outdoors in the beautiful scenery, with lumber, paper and fishing being among the prominent industries. Portland also offers jobs in the electronics, textiles, leather products and tourism sectors, so it might be easier than you think to find a job you love.

San Antonio, TX

Most of the large cities in Texas offer residents job-specific perks that come from business-friendly policies. Whether it’s low taxation, perks for opening small businesses or grants to help companies attract top-notch talent, San Antonio is on top of its game for promoting a happy employee culture.

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Photo Courtesy: L. Allen Brewer/Flickr

Companies like USAA, H-E-B and Clear Channel Communications are among the many large employers headquartered in San Antonio, and job seekers can find a variety of industries to choose from if they want to work near the city. Plus, the downtown area is gorgeous, with famous attractions like the Alamo and the River Walk infusing a bit of culture into the city's vibe.

Colorado Springs, CO

Colorado Springs is home to the United States Air Force Academy, making it technically a college town, but it’s also a military town. This confluence of identities has resulted in an abundance of jobs for those who want to work in a military or academic setting.

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Bonus: You're in Colorado, meaning you have access to beautiful mountain scenery — think hiking, skiing and the works for recreation — without having to go far. Job hunters who want the Western experience could certainly do worse than Colorado Springs.

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