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Want a Job in a Warmer Climate? Head to Arizona

by Nancy Ordman

For the millions of Northeasterners who just spent two weeks in the deep freeze, WalletHub’s 2018 list of best cities to find a job could be tempting. Arizona took four of the top 10 slots, with two in California and one in Texas. Expanding the range to the top 20 adds five more warm-climate locations.

Chandler, Arizona.
Source: deanouellette/CC BY 2.0

Chandler, Arizona, the top choice, part of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Phoenix Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), swapped spots with neighboring Scottsdale, which topped the 2017 list. Peoria and Gilbert, also cities in the Phoenix MSA, are fourth and fifth, respectively.

WalletHub compared 182 cities to produce the ranking. The final score includes job market data (80 percent of the score) and socioeconomic variables (the remaining 20 percent). The data come from a variety of trustworthy U.S. sources, ranging from the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics to the Pew Charitable Trusts and Glassdoor. The 17 job market variables included job openings and unemployment rate, as well as less-expected measures like disability-friendliness of employers. 

Why does the Phoenix area create so many jobs? Arizona actively recruits companies, working in partnership with the Arizona Commerce AuthorityArizona State University, and state government to attract companies in aerospace/defense, advanced manufacturing, bioscience and health care, and advanced business services, all of which are growth areas. Companies range from start-ups – some supported by ASU’s entrepreneurship and technology transfer programs – to Fortune 500 mainstays. The diversity among the area’s employers helps stabilize the economy and the job market.

Best Cities to Find a Job 2018. Source: WalletHub
Overall Rank City Total Score Job Market Rank Socioeconomic Rank
1 Chandler AZ 67.66 (out of 100) 3 9
2 Scottsdale AZ 66.29 5 3
3 San Francisco CA 66.06 2 43
4 Peoria AZ 65.86 1 56
5 Gilbert AZ 65.35 4 34
6 Plano TX 64.69 6 16
7 Portland ME 63.06 10 12
8 Irvine CA 62.86 11 13
9 Madison WI 62.44 21 1
10 Boston MA 62.37 7 42

The Phoenix area appeals to potential employees. Central Arizona offers 300 sunny days a year and warm, even hot, temperatures. Scorching summers might strike some job seekers as just as undesirable as brutal cold winters, though. Phoenix features a lot of big-city attractions, like professional sports teams and interesting restaurants, yet the cost of living is much lower than in other populous U.S. cities. For example, Charlotte and Seattle, both hot spots for jobs, cost more than the Phoenix MSA. 

WalletHub’s article includes several interesting and useful ask-the-experts interviews with six labor-market specialists.