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Aerial view of downtown Raleigh, NC at dusk.

Best Cities for Jobs in 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic changed how and where we work. But even before coronavirus hit, America was starting to experience a workforce shift, with several major companies moving their headquarters to more affordable cities and more businesses offering remote work for employees. Currently, trends show that cities with colleges, growing tech and healthcare markets, and affordability are the most likely to have job growth in 2021. If you’re thinking about moving to a new city for career opportunities, check out these nine cities, all of which offer university presences, booming tech and healthcare industries, and affordable living!

  • Austin, TX
  • Boise, ID
  • Denver, CO
  • Plano, TX
  • Raleigh, NC
  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • San Jose, CA
  • Scottsdale, AZ
  • Seattle, WA

Austin, TX

Aerial shot of downtown Austin, TX off the river. Photo by Instagram user @sayakakunze

Photo via @sayakakunze

  • Population: 907,779
  • Home Price: $257,800 median purchase price; $1,106 median monthly rent
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.6%
  • 2020 Job Growth: 3.5%

Even though the pandemic slowed Texas’ steady population growth, the capital city of the Lone Star State and home of the University of Texas at Austin is set to boom in 2021. Austin was already a city on the rise and an increasingly popular location for businesses and young professionals in recent years. In 2020, however, software giant Oracle announced that it was relocating its headquarters, starting a trend of Silicon Valley companies making the move to Austin. Other companies that relocated included FileTrail, QuestionPro, and 8VC. Some of Austin’s biggest employers include the popular supermarket company Whole Foods Market and Keller Williams Realty. Electric car maker Tesla has also announced plans to build a large factory outside of Austin that will create up to 5,000 jobs. With so much buzz around this Texas city, it’s easy to see how Austin could emerge as one of the top cities to find a job in 2021!

Boise, ID

  • Population: 218,677
  • Home Price: $191,000 median purchase price; $834 median monthly rent
  • Unemployment Rate: 4.1%
  • 2020 Job Growth: 3.6%

Want to move to a place with affordable living and a hot job market? Boise might be right for you! Idaho’s capital city was experiencing a population boom already, thanks in part to its expanding tech industry and low cost of living. In fact, Boise is one of the top ten fastest-growing areas in the country, and the state of Idaho itself is a top destination for people moving in 2021. The city is home to Boise State University and various technical schools that help feed into a young, educated workforce, as well as large employers like Fortune 500 company Micron Technologies and supermarket chains WinCo Foods and Albertsons. Whether you’re a young professional entering the workforce or a business looking to open in an affordable locale, Boise is worth considering!

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Denver, CO

Shot of downtown Denver, CO with Rocky Mountains in the background. Photo by Instagram user @sam_kilman

Photo via @sam_kilman

  • Population: 663,303
  • Home Price: $292,700 median purchase price; $1,035 median monthly rent
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.8%
  • 2020 Job Growth: 2.8%

Denver might finally be experiencing a slowdown in the rapid population growth it was seeing before 2020, but there are still plenty of reasons to believe that the Mile High City will be able to bounce back from COVID-19. Colorado’s capital has shown healthy job market growth year after year, and it has four fortune 500 companies headquartered in the area. Along with tons of other big businesses creating jobs in the city, it’s easy to see why Denver’s job market is in position to thrive in 2021. Not to mention, because it’s located right next to the Rocky Mountains, Denver is the perfect city for mining and energy companies to set up shop, with energy and natural resources being one of the biggest industries in the area.

Plano, TX

  • Population: 279,088
  • Home Price: $248,800 median purchase price; $1,196 median monthly rent
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.4%
  • 2020 Job Growth: 3.3%

Austin isn’t the only Texas city that could take off in 2021. Located just north of Dallas and Fort Worth, Plano has been growing steadily along with the rest of the DFW metro heading into 2020, as many people are looking to get away from traditional big cities and enjoy the lower tax rates offered by smaller cities. Plano is already home to two fortune 500 companies—Keurig Dr Pepper and Alliance Data—and is attracting more businesses to make the move. Toyota recently moved their headquarters to Plano, citing their employees’ desire for more affordable housing. Telecommunications company DZS Inc also made the move from the Silicon Valley to Plano in 2020, highlighting a trend of businesses looking to the area as an opportunity to expand their operations. With a growing population and influx of new employers, Plano could certainly emerge with one of the strongest U.S. job markets in 2021!

Raleigh, NC

Aerial view of NC State campus clock tower. Photo by Instagram user @jonathan.mcrae

Photo via @jonathan.mcrae

  • Population: 441,326
  • Home Price: $218,200 median purchase price; $966 median monthly rent
  • Unemployment Rate: 4.3%
  • 2020 Job Growth: 3%

Not every major city is experiencing a mass exodus! Raleigh is expanding, as people and businesses seek warmer weather and more space. Nearby North Carolina State University, Duke University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill aren’t just big employers for the residents of Raleigh, but their graduates also feed into a developing tech job market that’s expected to be one of the top tech scenes in the region. Other major employers in Raleigh include Total, one of the biggest oil companies in the world, and Fortune 500 company Advance Auto Parts. What’s more, Raleigh is expected to be one of the cities that recovers the quickest from COVID-19‘s impact on the economy, thanks to its role in the Research Triangle, its increase in population, and its budding educated workforce.

Salt Lake City, UT

Wide aerial view of downtown Salt Lake City with the mountain in the background. Photo by Instagram user @lukedavphoto

Photo via @lukedavphoto

  • Population: 191,446
  • Home Price: $248,700 median purchase price; $844 median monthly rent
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.9%
  • 2020 Job Growth: 1.5%

Watch out, Silicon Valley—Silicon Slopes is on the rise! Salt Lake City has long been experiencing job and population growth (so has the entire state of Utah), as more people and businesses are moving away from expensive cities in states like California. Due to an increase in young, educated workers and lower costs than Silicon Valley, Utah’s capital city has emerged as a hot spot for tech companies and startups like Ancestry and BambooHR. While tech jobs are plentiful, Salt Lake City’s largest industry is healthcare, with Intermountain Healthcare ranking as the city’s top employer. With a job market on the rise and an affordable cost of living, it’s no surprise that the SLC metro is in a position to bounce back strongly from COVID-19.

San Jose, CA

  • Population: 1,009,363
  • Home Price: $658,000 median purchase price; $1,689 median monthly rent
  • Unemployment Rate: 5.0%
  • 2020 Job Growth: 2.5%

The capital of Silicon Valley, San Jose has a lot to offer job seekers who don’t mind the Bay Area’s higher cost of living and more competitive job market. Much like its neighbor San Francisco, San Jose has a variety of career opportunities and high salaries. Education and technology are some of the biggest industries that provide jobs for San Jose residents, and the city is home to eight fortune 500 companies, including PayPal, eBay, and Adobe. Nearby schools University of California Berkeley and Stanford University flood Silicon Valley with thousands of computer science and engineering students a year and provide plenty of employment opportunities as well. So if you’re thinking of moving somewhere with an established tech scene and great weather, San Jose might just be the right place for you to settle down in 2021!

Scottsdale, AZ

View of Scottsdale with pink skies and mountains in the background. Photo by Instagram user @gbarb18

Photo via @gbarb18

  • Population: 234,495
  • Home Price: $405,500 median purchase price; $1,184 median monthly rent
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.1%
  • 2020 Job Growth: 3.3%

Scottsdale has been one of the best cities for jobs for years, and 2021 is no exception. At the beginning of 2020, Scottsdale was home to more than 25,000 businesses. To add to that, most of Scottsdale’s software companies are forecasted to grow their employment by 10% over the next five years. While tech may be on the rise, Scottsdale’s largest employers also include HonorHealth and Magellan Healthcare, as the city has seen an increase in demand for healthcare professionals, which is predicted to carry over into 2021. This Arizona city is also the headquarters for massage and skin care company Massage Envy and website-building giant GoDaddy, so new residents can find all kinds of unique career options!

Seattle, WA

  • Population: 668,849
  • Home Price: $484,600 median purchase price; $1,266 median monthly rent
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.7%
  • 2020 Job Growth: 2.6%

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Seattle was considered one of the strongest business markets in the country. And while Seattle can be a bit on the pricey side, it’s still maintaining a strong job market in 2021. The Emerald City’s economy is supplemented by five Fortune 500 companies, including Amazon, logistics company Expeditors, airline Alaska Air Group, retailer Nordstrom, and the popular coffee company Starbucks. Not surprisingly, Amazon added the most jobs in 2020 and also doubled its profits during the pandemic, now ranking second on the Fortune 500. Thanks to its robust economy and continued recognition as one of the top tech hubs in the nation, Seattle is certainly one of the best cities to find a job in 2021!

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Moving for work in 2021? Extra Space Storage has conveniently located self storage facilities across the country that can help you get settled. Find a storage unit near you!

Population, housing prices, and unemployment statistics from AreaVibes. Job growth statistics from BestPlaces.

Aerial view of downtown Raleigh, NC at dusk.
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