Checkr analyzed data about the 100 largest US cities to uncover the best places for women in the workforce in 2023 and how the labor market has changed for women since pre-pandemic times. Join us as we dig into the key factors that make these American cities great places for women to find the best opportunities for earning potential, management positions, and more.
The labor market was transformed by COVID-19, but after a three-year national health emergency, a boom in remote work, the Great Resignation, and the Great Return, the labor market is rebounding.
During the pandemic, the US labor market lost nearly 22 million jobs and a significant percentage of those jobs were lost by women. Nearly 12 million women left the workforce during COVID-19 due to pandemic-related disruptions, including increased caregiving responsibilities and challenges in balancing work with the closure of schools and daycare facilities.
In fact, experts deemed this to be the first “women’s recession”, as it was the first time women had experienced more job losses than men in one catastrophic economic contraction.
Now, in 2023, women are returning to work in droves. In June, the share of working-age women between 25 and 54 who are working or looking for work hit an all-time high of 77.8%.
With this in mind, Checkr crunched the numbers using data sourced from the US Census Bureau from 2019 to 2023 to uncover the best US cities for women currently in the workforce and women looking to make a return to work in the near future based on the change in key employment metrics between 2019 (before the beginning of the pandemic) and today.
We dug into five critical factors for the 100 largest cities in the US. Each of the following five key factors was weighted appropriately and scaled, and then we calculated the weighted sum of the factors to assign a workforce score (the lower score the better) to each city in terms of the quality of that city for women in the workforce.
Number of women in the workforce
Women in management positions
Wage gap between women and men
Women’s unemployment rate
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 related to women in the workforce and their change from 2019 – pre-pandemic – until 2023.
America’s best (& worst) cities for women in the workforce
About the best cities
Above you’ll see that Lakeland, FL tops the list as the best city in 2023 boasting the best women in the workforce score of 14.6 (remember, the lower the score the better). Lakeland had a fantastic showing across the board for the five key metrics, most notably placing in the top 15 for growth of women in the workforce, women’s median income, and gender wage gap. Lakeland placed just outside the top 15 for the number of women in management positions as well — a truly great showing for the Florida city.
Portland, ME comes in second place, which is no surprise as the city is home to the nation’s smallest wage gap between men and women and ranks fifth among all US cities for median income for women.
Joining Portland and Lakeland near the top of the list is booming Austin, TX which places third on the list. Austin, a popular city for tech companies, ranks third for median income for women, and also ranks in the top 15 for the growth of women in the workforce, and women in management positions.
Rounding out the top five following Lakeland, Portland and Austin are Fresno, CA, and Provo, UT. Joining the above cities on the top ten list are Sarasota, FL, Fayetteville, AR, Palm Bay, FL, Grand Rapids, MI, and Dayton, OH.
About the worst cities
On the other side of the rankings, Honolulu, HI lands as the worst city in America for women in the workforce, with a final score of only 96.3. A major reason for these struggles is the low ranking across the board for all of the key metrics, most notably ranking 98th for women in management positions and 97th for both the growth of women in the workforce and the gender wage gap.
Poughkeepsie, NY trails Honolulu with a score of 84.9, and also showcases low scores for key metrics, including a last-place ranking for women in management positions, and a 94th ranking for women’s median income.
Joining those cities in the bottom five are Wichita, KS, Oxnard, CA, and Las Vegas, NV, all of which rank near the bottom for many of the five key factors included in the report.
Lastly, rounding out the bottom ten are Charleston, SC, Milwaukee, WI, Hartford, CT, Madison, WI, and New York, NY.
For women seeking opportunities to work, earn a higher salary, make their way into management positions, and flourish in their careers, look no further than the top ten list above.
Next, let’s dive into the individual scores for both earning potential and management opportunities for women in the workforce, starting with the top cities where women’s salaries have grown the most throughout the past few years.
Top cities for women’s earning potential
If women are looking to jump back into the workforce after a long pause or searching for a new city that gives them a chance to earn more money, look no further than the top five leaders in the earning potential category based on data for women’s median income growth from 2019-2023, including top-ranked Dayton, OH, followed by Sarasota, FL, Austin, TX, Lakeland, FL, and Portland, ME.
America’s best cities for women’s salary growth
Top 10 US cities with the highest sub-score for women’s salary growth metric
Joining the above-mentioned cities in the top 10 are tech-heavy Seattle, WA, Palm Bay, FL, Orlando, FL, Syracuse, NY, and Daytona Beach, FL.
Now let’s take a look at the leaders in the growth of women in management positions.
Top cities for women in management positions
For women interested in pursuing management positions, here are the top five cities that provide the most positive growth in that area of employment. Bakersfield, CA tops the list and is joined by a few other smaller cities across the country in Chattanooga, TN, Sarasota, FL, Provo, UT, and Worcester, MA.
America’s best cities for growth of women in management
Top 10 US cities with the highest sub-score for women in management metric
Rounding out the top ten cities for the growth of women in management positions are Fort Myers, FL, Boise, ID, Raleigh, NC, Portland, ME, and Dayton, OH.
Finally, let’s take a look at the full rundown of all US cities and how they stack up in terms of the all-important key metrics that make up a great city for women in the workforce. Women who are currently working or looking to get back into the workforce can ultimately use this list to pursue jobs in select cities that fit their needs financially and provide the best opportunities for the growth of their careers.
The full list of the best cities for women in the workforce
|Rank||Metropolitan Statistical Area||Workforce Score|
|1||Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL Metro Area||14.6|
|2||Portland-South Portland, ME Metro Area||16.4|
|3||Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, TX Metro Area||20.1|
|4||Fresno, CA Metro Area||20.5|
|5||Provo-Orem, UT Metro Area||20.5|
|6||North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL Metro Area||21.2|
|7||Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR Metro Area||26.5|
|8||Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL Metro Area||27.0|
|9||Grand Rapids-Kentwood, MI Metro Area||27.1|
|10||Dayton-Kettering, OH Metro Area||27.2|
|11||McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX Metro Area||28.3|
|12||Worcester, MA-CT Metro Area||28.4|
|13||Durham-Chapel Hill, NC Metro Area||28.5|
|14||Akron, OH Metro Area||29.0|
|15||New Haven-Milford, CT Metro Area||29.3|
|16||Jacksonville, FL Metro Area||30.0|
|17||Salt Lake City, UT Metro Area||30.9|
|18||Knoxville, TN Metro Area||31.3|
|19||Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, AZ Metro Area||31.3|
|20||Raleigh-Cary, NC Metro Area||32|
|21||Albuquerque, NM Metro Area||34|
|22||Boise City, ID Metro Area||34.5|
|23||Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL Metro Area||35.1|
|24||Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA Metro Area||35.6|
|25||Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ Metro Area||36.1|
|26||Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO Metro Area||36.8|
|27||Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN Metro Area||36.9|
|28||Cleveland-Elyria, OH Metro Area||37.0|
|29||Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN Metro Area||37.0|
|30||Columbus, OH Metro Area||38.4|
|31||Richmond, VA Metro Area||39.2|
|32||El Paso, TX Metro Area||40.1|
|33||Chattanooga, TN-GA Metro Area||41.6|
|34||Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL Metro Area||42.9|
|35||Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT Metro Area||43.1|
|36||Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA Metro Area||43.4|
|37||Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA Metro Area||44.0|
|38||Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC Metro Area||44.6|
|39||Tucson, AZ Metro Area||45.1|
|40||Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN Metro Area||45.5|
|41||Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL Metro Area||46.4|
|42||Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX Metro Area||47.3|
|43||Bakersfield, CA Metro Area||48.0|
|44||Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI Metro Area||48.8|
|45||Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA Metro Area||49.5|
|46||Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX Metro Area||49.9|
|47||Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD Metro Area||50.1|
|48||San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, CA Metro Area||50.5|
|49||San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA Metro Area||50.8|
|50||Pittsburgh, PA Metro Area||50.9|
|51||Syracuse, NY Metro Area||51.2|
|52||Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI Metro Area||52.1|
|53||Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metro Area||52.7|
|54||Toledo, OH Metro Area||52.9|
|55||Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA Metro Area||52.9|
|56||Baton Rouge, LA Metro Area||53.0|
|57||Colorado Springs, CO Metro Area||54.3|
|58||Tulsa, OK Metro Area||54.5|
|59||Sacramento-Roseville-Folsom, CA Metro Area||54.6|
|60||Ogden-Clearfield, UT Metro Area||55.0|
|61||Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC Metro Area||55.6|
|62||Providence-Warwick, RI-MA Metro Area||56.2|
|63||Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL Metro Area||56.6|
|64||Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA Metro Area||57.0|
|65||Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH Metro Area||57.3|
|66||Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA Metro Area||57.5|
|67||Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL Metro Area||57.9|
|68||Winston-Salem, NC Metro Area||58.8|
|69||Greensboro-High Point, NC Metro Area||59.1|
|70||Jackson, MS Metro Area||59.2|
|71||Columbia, SC Metro Area||59.7|
|72||Memphis, TN-MS-AR Metro Area||60.9|
|73||Greenville-Anderson, SC Metro Area||61.0|
|74||Buffalo-Cheektowaga, NY Metro Area||61.2|
|75||Birmingham-Hoover, AL Metro Area||61.7|
|76||Stockton, CA Metro Area||64.0|
|77||Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD Metro Area||64.3|
|78||Oklahoma City, OK Metro Area||65.6|
|79||Springfield, MA Metro Area||65.8|
|80||St. Louis, MO-IL Metro Area||67.9|
|81||Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR Metro Area||68.0|
|82||Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA Metro Area||68.3|
|83||Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY Metro Area||68.9|
|84||San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA Metro Area||69.5|
|85||Kansas City, MO-KS Metro Area||69.6|
|86||Rochester, NY Metro Area||69.6|
|87||Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN Metro Area||70.6|
|88||San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX Metro Area||71.6|
|89||New Orleans-Metairie, LA Metro Area||72.2|
|90||Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI Metro Area||72.7|
|91||New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA Metro Area||73.0|
|92||Madison, WI Metro Area||75.5|
|93||Hartford-East Hartford-Middletown, CT Metro Area||75.6|
|94||Milwaukee-Waukesha, WI Metro Area||77.6|
|95||Charleston-North Charleston, SC Metro Area||78.8|
|96||Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV Metro Area||82.0|
|97||Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA Metro Area||82.1|
|98||Wichita, KS Metro Area||82.2|
|99||Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown, NY Metro Area||84.9|
|100||Urban Honolulu, HI Metro Area||96.3|
For more information on Check’s research or to request graphics or commentary about this study, please contact email@example.com.
To rank America’s best cities for women in the workforce, Checkr analyzed five key factors from the US Census Bureau from 2019-2023. The factors include the change in the size of the workforce, change in the number of women in management positions, change in median income, change in the wage gap between women and men, and change in the unemployment rate. Each factor was weighted appropriately by Checkr and scaled, resulting in the final rankings of the 100 largest cities in the country for the best places for women in the workforce.
The resources provided here are for educational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. We advise you to consult your own counsel if you have legal questions related to your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.
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.