Amid news of high-profile layoffs, the national unemployment rate is actually relatively low. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it was just 3.4% in January 2023, a rate comparable to unemployment before the start of the pandemic. It’s still a job seekers’ market, which may inspire some to take the financial risk to move to a new state or city.

Using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, MoneyGeek explored 95 metropolitan areas with labor forces of at least 300,000 to find the best and worst places for job seekers in the U.S. in 2023. We analyzed five key economic factors to determine our ranking: wage and job growth, unemployment rate, labor force size, and housing affordability. In addition to ranking the best and worst cities overall, MoneyGeek ranked the best and worst cities for each of the key economic factors measured. Here’s what we found.

  • Jacksonville, Florida, is the best city for job seekers. The city experienced the highest job growth among all cities analyzed, with a low unemployment rate and wage growth triple the national average.
  • The worst city for job seekers is Akron, Ohio — stagnant job growth and declines in average wages put this city at the bottom of our ranking.
  • 6 of the 10 best cities for job seekers are in Florida: high job and wage growth make these cities desirable for job seekers.
  • Provo, Utah, is the best city for Gen Z job seekers — there, this generation makes up 16.4% of the population, job growth is high and competition is low.
  • Palm Bay, Florida, had the highest wage growth of all cities analyzed at 6.3%, contributing to its ranking as the No.7 best city for job seekers overall.



The Best (and Worst) Cities for Job Seekers in the US

MoneyGeek analyzed 95 of the largest cities in the United States to find the best and worst places for job seekers in 2023. We looked at each community’s growth in employment during the last 12 months and for the previous three years, growth in hourly wages over the last 12 months, current unemployment rate, current labor force size, and average monthly wage over monthly rent ratio to determine our rankings. The most important factors — including growth in employment during the last 12 months and three years and growth in hourly wages — were double-weighted (22%), while the other factors each contributed 11%.

Best Cities for Job Seekers in the US

The best cities for job seekers have impressive job and wage growth, low job competition, and affordable housing prices; in other words, they provide solid employment opportunities and low-cost living.

Total Score


Jacksonville, FL



Provo, UT



Dallas, TX



Lakeland, FL



Tampa, FL



Austin, TX



Palm Bay, FL



Boise City, ID



North Port, FL



Cape Coral, FL



Raleigh, NC



Ogden, UT



Deltona, FL



Orlando, FL



Phoenix, AZ


Factors That Make a City Ideal for Job Seekers

MoneyGeek ranked the best and worst cities using four key factors — job growth, wage growth, unemployment rate, and housing-to-income ratio — to better understand which cities best served those seeking employment and which fell flat. These factors all contribute to what makes a city attractive or less-than-ideal for job seekers; many cities excel in some areas but fall short in others.

To better understand how well or poorly cities performed in each of our ranking categories, MoneyGeek found the best (and worst) cities for each category. You can find those rankings — along with a brief description of their significance — below.


Job Growth Over the Last 12 Months

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Best Cities for Job Growth:
1. Jacksonville, FL (5.6%)
2. Tampa, FL (5.4%)
3. Orlando, FL (5.2%)
4. Las Vegas, NV (5.1%)
5. Riverside, CA (5.0%)
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Worst Cities for Job Growth:
1. Milwaukee, WI (-1.7%)
2. Madison, WI (-1.1%)
3. Columbia, SC (-.7%)
4. Cincinnati, OH (-.6%)
5. Akron, OH (-.5%)

In 2023, the majority of the best cities for job growth in the last 12 months are concentrated in Florida, while 4 of the 5 worst cities for job growth are in the Midwest.


Wage Growth Over the Last 12 Months

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Best Cities for Wage Growth:
1. Palm Bay, FL (6.3%)
2. Lakeland, FL (5.6%)
3. Cape Coral, FL (5.2%)
4. Deltona, FL (4.7%)
5. Ogden, UT (4.4%)
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Worst Cities for Wage Growth:
1. San Francisco, CA (-12.2%)
2. San Jose, CA (-8.4%)
3. New York, NY (-7.4%)
4. Bridgeport, CT (-6.8%)
5. Boston, MA (-3.9%)

When wages grow, a city is doing something right. Palm Bay, Florida’s 12-month wage growth tops MoneyGeek’s list with 6.3% wage growth. Meanwhile, San Francisco, California, experienced a 12.2% wage decline since 2022.


Unemployment Rate

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Cities With the Lowest Unemployment Rates:
1. Provo, UT (2.0%)
2. Ogden, UT (2.1%)
3. Salt Lake City, UT (2.2%)
4. Miami, FL (2.2%)
5. Minneapolis, MN (2.2%)
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Cities With the Highest Unemployment Rates:
1. Bakersfield, CA (7.2%)
2. McAllen, TX (7.0%)
3. Fresno, CA (6.4%)
4. Las Vegas, NV (5.6%)
5. Stockton, CA (5.4%)

Naturally, it’s a good sign for a job seeker if you see a city with low unemployment; ultimately, it means your odds of being hired at a new job should be pretty good. Provo, Utah, is MoneyGeek’s standout in this category, with just 2% unemployment.

Housing-to-Income Ratio

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Cities With the Best Housing-to-Income Ratios
1. Springfield, MA (21.9%)
2. Cleveland, OH (22.2%)
3. St. Louis, MO (22.5%)
4. Toledo, OH (22.9%)
5. Dayton, OH (23.3%)
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Cities With the Worst Housing-to-Income Ratios
1. Oxnard, CA (54.1%)
2. Urban Honolulu, HI (51.7%)
3. Providence, RI (48.9%)
4. Los Angeles, CA (47.7%)
5. San Diego, CA (46.0%)

A city’s housing-to-income ratio roughly translates to its affordability; the less money you spend on rent and housing compared to your overall income, the more money you have for everything else. That’s why your money goes much further in Springfield, Massachusetts than in more expensive cities like Oxnard, California, or Honolulu, Hawaii. In Springfield, monthly rent costs just under 22% of your income, on average. After paying for housing in Oxnard or Honolulu, you’ll have to spend more than half of your income on housing and be left with the other half to cover all other expenses.