Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on SmartAsset.com.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in June 2021 more than 6 million people said they didn’t work or worked less because their employer closed or lost a business due to the coronavirus pandemic.
While the record high unemployment rate of 14.7% in April 2020 forced many to budget carefully and remain cautious about changing jobs, the much lower rate of 5.9% in June 2021 is causing some workers to rethink their careers. SmartAsset analyzed data from various sources to identify and rank the metropolitan areas with the best career opportunities in 2021.
To determine which locations are best, we examined 200 metropolitan areas using seven metrics: unemployment rate, change in total employment over the past year, median income, income growth, annual housing costs, number of career counselors, and the number of college graduate teachers.
This is the 2021 edition of SmartAsset of our study of the best positions for career opportunities. View the 2020 edition here.
For more information on our data sources and how we put all of the information together to create our final rankings, see the Data and Methodology section at the end.
Below are the top positions for career opportunities in 2021.
1. Lafayette-West Lafayette, IN
Greater Lafayette-West Lafayette, Indiana, had 16.4% more non-farm workers in April 2021 than in the same month in 2020. That is the 15th highest rate of any of the 200 metropolitan areas in this study.
Unemployment in Lafayette-West Lafayette is also relatively low at 3.5% in April 2021.
Income growth over time, or the percentage change in median income for households whose head of household was between 25 and 44 years old compared to those of whose head of household was between 54 and 64 years old, is almost 22% and ranks 25th Total.
2. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI
In Michigan’s Detroit-Warren-Dearborn metro, payroll increased more than 25% between April 2020 and April 2021, the third highest growth rate of any of the 200 metropolitan areas in our study.
The Detroit area also had an unemployment rate of 3.7% in April 2021, the 25th-lowest on our list.
3. Rochester, NY
Rochester, New York, ranks in the top 30 metropolitan areas on three metrics.
It exhibits the 29th-best change in total employment from April 2020 to April 2021 (14.07%), the 15th-highest number of career counselors per 1,000 workers (3.55), and the fifth-highest number of post-secondary teachers per 1,000 Workers on (38.05).
4. Ann Arbor, MI
Ann Arbor, home of the University of Michigan, has the most post-secondary teachers per 1,000 employees (87.67) and the 45 most career counselors per 1,000 employees (2.61).
Ann Arbor’s 4.0% unemployment rate ranks 40th among the 200 metropolitan areas studied, while her income growth over time (24.90%) ranks 11th in the study.
5. Huntsville, AL
After Huntsville took second place in last year’s ranking, Huntsville is fifth in this year’s edition.
Huntsville had the lowest unemployment rate of any 200 metropolitan area in April 2021 (2.2%) and the sixth highest income growth over time (29.58%).
Additionally, Huntsville ranks 45th overall with a median income of $ 43,590.
6. Binghamton, NY
Binghamton, New York ranks in the top quarter of metropolitan areas on four metrics. It has the 47th-highest annual change in total employment (12.34%) and the 23rd-lowest mean annual housing cost (about $ 9,900).
According to the BLS, Binghamton has the 10th highest concentration of career guidance professionals (nearly four per 1,000 employees) and the 15th highest concentration of post-secondary teachers (approximately 29 per 1,000 employees) of all 200 areas in our study.
7. Syracuse, NY
Workers looking for career opportunities in Syracuse, New York will love to learn that there are many professionals available.
For every 1,000 employees in the metropolitan region, there are 3.53 career counselors and 37.67 teachers at secondary level. Syracuse also has the 46th highest median income in our study, at nearly $ 43,600.
8. Provo-Orem, UT
Provo-Orem had the third highest unemployment rate (2.4%) of all 200 metropolitan areas in this study in April 2021.
This area of Utah, home of Brigham Young University, also scores high for income growth over time (fifth overall at 30.76%) and the number of career counselors per 1,000 employees (fourth overall, 4.57 per 1,000 employees).
9. Lansing-East Lansing, MI
Lansing-East Lansing is Michigan’s third largest metropolitan area in our top 10. It has the 25th highest number of career counselors per 1,000 employees at 3.09 and the 38th highest median income at $ 44,640.
Additionally, from April 2020 to April 2021, total employment recovered 11.72% – the 60th highest rate in our study.
10. Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY
The metropolitan area of Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls in New York completes our list of the top 10 places for career opportunities in 2021. It is among the top 20 metropolises for two metrics: Change in total employment by one year (13.37% ) and the number of teachers in post-secondary education per 1,000 employees (26.74).
Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls also has relatively low average annual housing costs of less than $ 10,600.
Data and methodology
To identify the best positions for career opportunities in 2021, we analyzed data for 200 of the largest US cities using these seven metrics:
- Unemployment rate April 2021. The data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Change in total employment by one year. This figure shows the percentage change in total employment from April 2020 to April 2021. The data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- The middle income. This is the median annual income of all employees. The data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and dates back to 2020.
- Income growth over time. This is the percent change in median income for households where the household head was between 25 and 44 years old compared to those where the household head was between 54 and 64 years old. The data comes from the Census Bureau’s 5-year 2019 American Community survey.
- Annual average housing costs. The data comes from the Census Bureau’s 5-year 2019 American Community survey.
- Number of career counselors per 1,000 employees. The data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and relates to the year 2020.
- Number of teachers in post-secondary education per 1,000 employees. The data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and relates to the year 2020.
First, we ranked each metropolitan area in each metric. We then found the average ranking of each area, with all metrics given the same weight, except for the number of career counselors and the number of post-secondary teachers, each weighted half.
The metropolitan regions were ranked according to this average. The metropolitan area with the highest average ranking received a score of 100. The metropolitan area with the lowest average ranking received a score of 0.
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