View Full Version : Forbes ranks OKC #9 best U.S. city to find job

08-10-2006, 08:39 AM
The 10 best U.S. cities to find a job
College grads often flock to New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago to start their careers. But they'd be far better off in Washington D.C., Phoenix and Las Vegas.

By Hannah Clark,

Cabot, Vt., is a bad location if you want to work in politics but ideal if you're interested in cheese. West Yellowstone, Mont., doesn't have a huge finance sector, but it's a mecca for park rangers. But for most people looking for work, major metropolitan areas offer the best variety of job opportunities, along with the excitement and energy of urban life. That's why college graduates flock to New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago every year to start their careers.

But they might be headed in the wrong direction. Those four cities landed near the bottom of our list of the best cities to get a job. Using U.S. government data supplied by Moody's, we ranked the largest 100 metropolitan areas according to their unemployment rates, cost of living, median household income, job growth and income growth.

While we expected the cost of living to weigh down big cities' rankings, we didn't know they would fare so badly in the other categories as well. Detroit and New Orleans, unsurprisingly, are the two worst cities to get a job. But New York was 96th. Chicago beat NYC by a hair, coming in 93rd. And San Francisco and Los Angeles did slightly better, coming in 87th and 85th, respectively.

Why? We used the latest available figures for unemployment, cost of living and median household income. For job and income growth, however, we used a five-year average. That means the 2001 dot-com bust hurt the rankings of some major cities. "All of those areas were hit really hard during the 2001 recession, the dot-com bust and the accompanying financial bust," says Steve Cochrane, an economist with Moody's Hiring didn't pick up until early 2005, he says.

By contrast, the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area is the best place to get a job, partly because consultants, lobbyists and Congressional staffers didn't suffer as much during the recession. "In Washington, D.C., you have a lot of government stuff, which is relatively impervious to the business cycles," says Jonas Prising, president of the North American division of Manpower, a staffing firm.

The northeast and Midwest fared poorly in our ranking, while the south and the southwest soared. Only two cities north of Washington, D.C., made it onto the list, although Poughkeepsie, N.Y., deserves a shout out for landing at 17. By contrast, Florida, Virginia and California all host multiple cities in the top 15.

Migrating south
Businesses and workers are both seeking sunny skies. "Corporations have been leaving the northeast, and going toward the southeast, where the climate is easier and the cost of living is easier," says Nels Olson, a managing director with executive search firm Korn/Ferry International. Retirees are migrating south for the same reasons. Meanwhile, Asian auto firms like Toyota Motor and Nissan Motor are building plants in southern states, where unions are scarce.

To be sure, these rankings aren't definitive. Investment bankers shouldn't seek work in Phoenix just because it's our second-best city to get a job. And blackjack dealers should probably avoid Washington, D.C. The cities on our list simply have the right conditions for a speedy job search and a high salary.

Some offer a wide variety of opportunities, while others have seen sector-specific growth. A resurgence of travel and tourism has boosted Honolulu, which is 15th on our list. In the 1990s, as Japan's economy languished, Hawaii's tourism industry suffered as well. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, however, American travelers began looking for domestic vacation spots. "Honolulu has made a 180-degree turnaround," Cochrane says. "Now not only is domestic travel strong, but international travel is coming back."

Las Vegas, No. 3 on our list, benefited from all the trends boosting the region that Cochrane calls the "southern crescent." In the last decade, the entertainment industry has become more family friendly. Meanwhile, immigrants and retirees have flocked there, the former for jobs and the latter for warm weather. The construction industry has also flourished.

By contrast, New York and Chicago are mature cities, without as much space to expand. Even during boom years, large metropolitan areas often see tempered growth because their economies are so diverse. The Los Angeles economy, for example, relies on film, international trade, travel and tourism, and the defense industry. "Even if one industry is doing well, there's a whole lot else that could be holding it back," Cochrane says.

Top 10 cities for job hunting


Washington D.C.


Las Vegas

Orlando, Fla.
Bethesda, Md.

Richmond, Va.

Raleigh, N.C.

Jacksonville, Fla.

Oklahoma City

Virginia Beach, Va.

#9 Oklahoma City, Okla.

Oklahoma City, a former oil town, has been diversifying its economic base. Technology companies like Dell have set up call centers there, avoiding other outsourcing centers like Bangalore, India. Although General Motors recently closed an Oklahoma City auto plant, other manufacturers are opening their doors.

Unemployment rank: 21
Cost of living rank: 11
Median household income rank: 61
Income growth rank: 12
Job growth rank: 44

08-10-2006, 08:48 AM
The HTML source shows the link to that picture as being from Forbes....but it's incredibly old: Note the presence of the Murrah building on the left...


08-10-2006, 08:49 AM
Awesome! Way to go, OKC!

08-10-2006, 09:13 AM
Sweet! Great Article - great find.

Let's send the aerial shots of OKC to Forbes though.

08-10-2006, 09:34 AM
Even though such rankings are highly subjective, just goes to show that OKC is increasingly seen as a city on the move across the nation.

08-10-2006, 10:37 AM
I agree. I also agree that that shot is way old. It has houses in the foreground that aren't even there anymore as well as the Murrah building and other buildings that were affected and no longer. There are also new buildings since then!

Doug Loudenback
08-10-2006, 10:49 AM
Nice find, Malibu! I've credited you and OkcTalk with the find over at

08-10-2006, 11:12 AM
The HTML source shows the link to that picture as being from Forbes....but it's incredibly old: Note the presence of the Murrah building on the left...


Whoa, I didn't even notice that. I like the picture though. It shows the density of our core and also that we have TREES!

Great to be recognized on this list, and in the top 10 no less.

08-10-2006, 04:18 PM
Sheesh, look at the cars in the photo. None of them are a day older than 1985.

08-10-2006, 04:19 PM
Well, I wonder if I can talk my wife into a return relocation. Hmmmm....

08-10-2006, 07:08 PM
A little off the subject but I keep a picture of downtown OKC on my computer destop wallpaper. I do lots of presentations for people from all over the world and they always ask me what city that is. When I tell them Oklahoma City they are amazed.

Just today I was doing an on-line presentation for people in the UK, Ireland, and some US based workers. All of them said they had no idea OKC had such a large downtown.

08-10-2006, 07:21 PM
Can you post that pic here? I would love to see it..

08-10-2006, 07:34 PM
It is a picture from When I get a chance I want to use one of aerials from this site.

08-10-2006, 07:53 PM
Wow - now that would have been a nice shot for Forbes to have used.. very cool... I like that site. Thanks!

08-10-2006, 08:05 PM
Dangit...I have this great nighttime shot of downtown okc from December and I can't remember the website. Can we upload photos from our own files?