Even with the American economy on the upswing for the past year and unemployment the lowest it's been in decades — 3.9 percent in August 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — competition for jobs in high-demand industries like tech, business and health care will remain fierce. As such, factors beyond jobs themselves will play into professionals' considerations when they decide to pursue new positions.
Location ranks high among these factors, with some cities representing hubs for particular industries and others playing host to a broad range of opportunities. It's also worth considering which cities are up and coming rather than already established, as this will affect employer needs and competition among job candidates. Let's take a look at some of the most notable rising metropolitan areas for job opportunities and the sectors that stand to benefit as a result:
Tech frontiers of the new West
Many people can rattle off names of the premier locales for the American tech sector fairly easily — San Francisco and the greater Silicon Valley area, Boston, New York and Seattle. However, that massive popularity has a downside, as all of those cities are among the most expensive places to live comfortably in the U.S., according to Inc. magazine.
All of those cities have established, entrenched tech businesses, which aren't guaranteed to have openings at any given time. But areas still on the rise throughout western and southwestern states — like Denver, Dallas, Austin, Phoenix and San Diego — are a different story. The first three earned spots on Curbed's list of nine real estate markets to watch in 2018 due largely to their major tech industry growth. Meanwhile, the latter two benefit from major municipal initiatives to promote tech development and high average tech salaries — approximately $90,000 and $101,000, respectively, as PC Magazine pointed out.
The jobs-rich South
Cities below the Mason-Dixon line are attracting considerable attention for reasons similar to western hubs, which is why Raleigh-Durham and Nashville also made Curbed's list. The former can point to its prestigious higher-education options and American Underground shared workspace for tech startups. The latter is fueled by voluminous commercial real estate development buildup, affordable living and massive growth in tech employment (67.9 percent between 2010 and 2015, according to research by real estate firm CBRE). Elsewhere in North Carolina and Tennessee, Charlotte and Chattanooga are leveraging fintech success and venture-capital investment to create fertile environments for entrepreneurial efforts across multiple fields.
Midwestern and Rust Belt cities on the come-up
Some of the best locations for job opportunities are those that were written off economically until recently. The 2008 financial crisis and Great Recession took a major toll on cities like Cleveland, Detroit and Pittsburgh that had already suffered decades of significant losses in manufacturing and heavy industry. However, since the national economy started turning around in 2015 and 2016, these metropolitan areas and others that had experienced similar difficulties have been seeing growing employment and rising home prices for the first time in years.
Reuters noted that Pittsburgh's and Cleveland's employment surges are fueled in part by house-flippers who, instead of selling for a quick profit, are investing in reconstructing these cities' real estate markets to offer truly attractive properties and reap much more lucrative sales. This attracts buyers seasoned in tech and financial markets like Boston and Washington who need a less expensive place to live, and can then offer their talents to new startups.
Health care also plays a significant role in these cities' resurgence. Forbes named Cleveland the fourth-best city for that sector's employment in 2017, just two spots behind another Ohio city, Toledo. The Detroit–Ann Arbor metro area, meanwhile, took the No. 3 place on that list. Minneapolis is also becoming an attractive market for the health care and personal care industries, making The Job Network's list of the top 10 U.S. cities for job seekers. All told, it's clear that businesses in these sectors, as well as prospective candidates looking for work in less crowded markets, could benefit significantly from focusing on cities that were once under the radar.