Checkr analyzed data about the 100 largest US cities to uncover the best cities for employment opportunities and the highest earnings in 2023. Join us as we dig into the key factors that make these American cities great places to find work and thrive financially.
The current state of economic uncertainty, although improving slightly, has created a sense of financial insecurity and instability for many people across the country, which in turn can drive a desire to earn more money.
With the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation concerns, and other economic factors, many individuals and families have experienced job loss, reduced income, and increased expenses, leading to financial stress and uncertainty about the future.
Additionally, economic uncertainty has highlighted the importance of earning more money and being adaptable in the face of changing economic conditions. In some cases, earning more money may also be seen as a way to gain greater control over one's career trajectory and future job prospects.
In short, this uncertainty is driving many people to seek out opportunities to increase their earning potential and build greater financial security for themselves and their families. In some cases, this may include relocating to a different part of the United States.
So if someone is looking for increased employment opportunities and the ability to earn higher wages, what are the best cities for them to consider?
To provide answers, Checkr crunched the numbers using data sourced from the US Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
We dug into seven critical factors for the 100 largest cities in the US. Each of the following seven key factors was weighted appropriately and scaled, and then we calculated the weighted sum of the factors to obtain scores for employment opportunities and earning potential using the metrics below.
Employment Opportunity Score:
- Unemployment Rate (30% weight)
- Labor Force Growth (30% weight)
- Labor Force Size (20% weight)
- Percentage of Jobs Open (20% weight)
Earning Potential Score:
- Real Per Capita Personal Income (40% weight)
- 10-Year Income Growth (40% weight)
- Percentage of Households Making More Than $200,000 (20% weight)
To produce the final Employment & Earnings Score, Checkr placed a 50% weight on the Employment Opportunity Score and a 50% weight on the Earning Potential Score.
Now, let’s check out some of the key findings.
America’s best and worst cities
Let’s start by taking a look at the best and worst cities in the country for our critical factors.
America’s best (and worst) cities for employment opportunity and earning potential
Above you’ll see that Nashville, TN tops the list as the best city in 2023 boasting the highest employment and earnings score of 86.7. Fast-growing Austin, TX places second on the list with an employment and earnings score of 85.6. Following Nashville and Austin, rounding out the top five, are San Jose, CA, Denver, CO, and Raleigh, NC.
Joining these cities on the top ten list are Salt Lake City, UT, Seattle, WA, San Francisco, CA, Madison, WI, and Provo, UT.
Conversely, Bakersfield, CA lands as the worst city in America for employment and opportunity, with a final score of only 19.1. August, GA trails only Bakersfield with a final score of 22.7. Joining those cities in the bottom five are Scranton, PA, Buffalo, NY, and Jackson, MS.
Finally, rounding out the bottom ten are Rochester, NY, Syracuse, NY, Toledo, OH, El Paso, TX, and Lakeland, FL.
For those seeking opportunities in a multitude of industries that offer high earning potential within those open positions, look no further than the top ten list above.
Next, let’s dive into the individual scores for both employment and earnings, starting with the top cities for employment opportunities in 2023.
Top cities for jobs
America’s best cities for employment opportunity in 2023
Top-10 US cities with the highest sub-score for job opportunity metrics
We combined the factors related to employment and earnings which helped us uncover the cities with the best total score across the country. Now, let's take a look at the two major factors individually. First up: employment opportunity.
The workplace has changed drastically throughout the past three years. We saw a major shift from in-office work to working from home, the continued innovation and implementation of AI in the workplace, the Great Resignation, and many other changes. But in the end, employment opportunities for the American workforce play a crucial role in the economic and social well-being of cities in America.
Cities are centers of commerce, culture, and innovation, and they attract millions of people seeking better employment prospects. Access to stable jobs with competitive wages and benefits helps individuals and families achieve financial security, access quality healthcare, and build long-term wealth.
A robust labor market fuels consumer spending and drives local business growth. Moreover, employment opportunities contribute to reducing poverty, crime, and social inequality, and foster a sense of community and belonging among residents. For all of these reasons, it’s clear why cities prioritize policies and programs that promote job creation, workforce development, and equitable access to employment opportunities for all.
So, where is that happening most?
If you’re looking for a city with a plethora of employment opportunities, look no further than the top five employment score leaders, including top-ranked Provo, UT, followed by Nashville, TN, Boise, ID, Raleigh, NC, and Ogden, UT.
Joining the above-mentioned cities in the top 10 are booming Austin, TX, Salt Lake City, UT, southern-gem Charleston, SC, Denver, CO, and Dallas, TX.
For a complete list of employment scores, see the full data set at the end of this report.
Top cities for earning potential
America’s best cities for earning potential in 2023
Top-10 US cities with the highest sub-score for earning potential metrics
Throughout the past few years, many job seekers have found opportunities that provided them with greater flexibility to work remotely and create more freedom in their lives. That said, future earning potential is still a key factor that workers must consider when deciding where to work and live.
Aside from individual workers, group earning potential remains a critical factor in determining the economic health and prosperity of cities in America. Higher wages provide individuals and families with the means to achieve financial stability, invest in their future, and support local businesses.
Furthermore, cities with a reputation for high-paying jobs can attract and retain talented workers, leading to a more skilled and diverse workforce, resulting in the growth and development of vibrant and prosperous cities.
Now, let’s take a look at the cities in America that offer the highest earning potential for workers.
To start, San Jose, CA tops the list and is joined by a few of the most popular cities in America, including San Francisco, CA, Seattle, WA, Austin, TX, Nashville, TN.
Rounding out the top ten cities for earning potential are Denver, CO, Chicago, IL, Bradenton, FL, Los Angeles, CA, and Philadelphia, PA.
Finally, let’s take a look at the full rundown of all US cities and how they stack up in terms of employment opportunities and earning potential. Americans can use this list to pursue jobs that pay the most in cities across the country.
The full list of the best cities for employment opportunities and earning potential
|Rank||Metropolitan Statistical Area||Total Score|
|1||Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN Metro Area||86.7|
|2||Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, TX Metro Area||85.6|
|3||San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA Metro Area||83.5|
|4||Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO Metro Area||82.5|
|5||Raleigh-Cary, NC Metro Area||79.5|
|6||Salt Lake City, UT Metro Area||79.1|
|7||Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA Metro Area||78.8|
|8||San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA Metro Area||76.3|
|9||Madison, WI Metro Area||73.0|
|10||Provo-Orem, UT Metro Area||72.1|
|11||Boise City, ID Metro Area||70.9|
|12||Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH Metro Area||70.5|
|13||Charleston-North Charleston, SC Metro Area||69.6|
|14||Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC Metro Area||69.1|
|15||North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL Metro Area||69.1|
|16||Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA Metro Area||68.3|
|17||Ogden-Clearfield, UT Metro Area||68.2|
|18||Durham-Chapel Hill, NC Metro Area||67.7|
|19||Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI Metro Area||66.3|
|20||Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN Metro Area||64.5|
|21||Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA Metro Area||62.8|
|22||Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA Metro Area||62.6|
|23||Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL Metro Area||62.2|
|24||Richmond, VA Metro Area||61.6|
|25||Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD Metro Area||61.5|
|26||Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI Metro Area||61.3|
|27||Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX Metro Area||60.2|
|28||Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, AZ Metro Area||60.2|
|29||Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN Metro Area||59.4|
|30||Colorado Springs, CO Metro Area||57.5|
|31||Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA Metro Area||57.2|
|32||Knoxville, TN Metro Area||57.1|
|33||Kansas City, MO-KS Metro Area||56.5|
|34||Milwaukee-Waukesha, WI Metro Area||56.4|
|35||Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metro Area||56.2|
|36||San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, CA Metro Area||55.0|
|37||Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA Metro Area||54.8|
|38||Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD Metro Area||54.7|
|39||St. Louis, MO-IL Metro Area||54.5|
|40||Columbus, OH Metro Area||52.5|
|41||Birmingham-Hoover, AL Metro Area||52.2|
|42||Sacramento-Roseville-Folsom, CA Metro Area||51.6|
|43||Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN Metro Area||50.8|
|44||Worcester, MA-CT Metro Area||50.6|
|45||Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA Metro Area||50.6|
|46||Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV Metro Area||50.5|
|47||New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA Metro Area||50.2|
|48||Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL Metro Area||49.9|
|49||Jacksonville, FL Metro Area||49.0|
|50||Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA Metro Area||48.8|
|51||Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX Metro Area||48.3|
|52||Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT Metro Area||48.1|
|53||Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ Metro Area||48.0|
|54||Providence-Warwick, RI-MA Metro Area||47.9|
|55||Stockton, CA Metro Area||47.7|
|56||Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL Metro Area||47.7|
|57||Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY Metro Area||47.6|
|58||Springfield, MA Metro Area||47.5|
|59||Pittsburgh, PA Metro Area||46.9|
|60||Oklahoma City, OK Metro Area||46.4|
|61||Memphis, TN-MS-AR Metro Area||46.1|
|62||Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL Metro Area||45.6|
|63||New Haven-Milford, CT Metro Area||45.5|
|64||Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown, NY Metro Area||45.0|
|65||Greenville-Anderson, SC Metro Area||44.5|
|66||Grand Rapids-Kentwood, MI Metro Area||43.6|
|67||Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA Metro Area||43.4|
|68||Hartford-East Hartford-Middletown, CT Metro Area||43.2|
|69||Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI Metro Area||41.8|
|70||Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL Metro Area||41.4|
|71||New Orleans-Metairie, LA Metro Area||41.3|
|72||Cleveland-Elyria, OH Metro Area||41.2|
|73||Tucson, AZ Metro Area||40.5|
|74||Albuquerque, NM Metro Area||40.0|
|75||Winston-Salem, NC Metro Area||39.8|
|76||Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL Metro Area||39.7|
|77||Tulsa, OK Metro Area||39.1|
|78||Columbia, SC Metro Area||38.4|
|79||Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC Metro Area||38.1|
|80||Fresno, CA Metro Area||37.6|
|81||San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX Metro Area||36.1|
|82||Greensboro-High Point, NC Metro Area||35.8|
|83||Akron, OH Metro Area||35.1|
|84||Urban Honolulu, HI Metro Area||35.0|
|85||Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR Metro Area||34.7|
|86||Dayton-Kettering, OH Metro Area||33.6|
|87||Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA Metro Area||33.3|
|88||Wichita, KS Metro Area||33.2|
|89||Baton Rouge, LA Metro Area||33.1|
|90||McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX Metro Area||31.5|
|91||Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL Metro Area||31.5|
|92||El Paso, TX Metro Area||30.4|
|93||Toledo, OH Metro Area||30.2|
|94||Syracuse, NY Metro Area||27.1|
|95||Rochester, NY Metro Area||24.7|
|96||Jackson, MS Metro Area||23.4|
|97||Buffalo-Cheektowaga, NY Metro Area||23.1|
|98||Scranton--Wilkes-Barre, PA Metro Area||23.1|
|99||Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC Metro Area||22.7|
|100||Bakersfield, CA Metro Area||19.1|
For more information on Check’s research or to request graphics or an interview about this study, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
To rank America’s best cities for employment opportunities and high earnings, Checkr analyzed seven key factors from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the US Census Bureau, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The factors include unemployment rate, size of the labor force, labor force growth, percentage of jobs open, percentage of households making more than $200,000, real per capita personal income, and 10-year income growth. Each factor was weighted appropriately by Checkr and scaled, resulting in the final rankings of the 100 largest cities in the country for employment opportunities and earning potential.
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About the author
Sara Korolevich serves as checkr.com’s editor and content manager. In this role, she produces educational resources for employers on a broad range of screening topics, including background check compliance and best practices. She also writes about Checkr’s company and product news to keep customers updated and informed.