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Top Twenty Cities for Jobs (and Quality of Life)

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Finding the next great job may mean making a move, especially as the economy cools. Forbes.com recently ranked the top cities for jobs in 2008. Its rankings were based on unemployment rates, job growth, income growth, median household income, and cost of living. I read the list with great interest—then started looking for other kinds of information on these cities. In addition to the cost of living, I wanted to know about the style of living. We all want to be in places that make us happy. Here’s the list:


1. Salt Lake City
This city was founded in 1847 by Brigham Young and became the capital of the Mormon community. Want a big family? You will fit right in. The state boasts the highest fertility rate in the nation. From an employment standpoint, the city has an abundance of tech jobs, according to Forbes.com


2. Wichita
Known as the air capital of the world, Wichita is home to a handful of air manufacturing companies and McConnell Air Force Base. Random fact: Wichita was the site of the first Pizza Hut. 


3. Austin
The state capital and home to the University of Texas, the city is known for its music scene. In the business world, it is known as a leader in the semiconductor industry.


4. Atlanta
Nicknamed “the city too busy too hate,” Atlanta was the capital of the civil rights movement and is still known as a mecca for well-educated, wealthy African Americans. Atlanta is home to many Fortune 500 companies, including Coca-Cola.


5. Fort Worth
Often overshadowed by its cousin Dallas to the East, Fort Worth is known as “cowtown” and considered a gateway to the west. It is the home of American Airlines. 


6. Indianapolis
Best known as the site of the Indianapolis 500, which is held every Memorial Day weekend, Indianapolis is home to corporations including pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and insurance firm WellPoint.


7. Houston
This is oil country, though other industries, including the chemical industry, are also important. And who could forget the famous line, “Houston, we have a problem”? Yes, NASA is still the city’s most famous employer. Houston boasts a low cost of living and plenty of sunshine.


8. Omaha
Located near the center of the continental United States, Omaha lacks the glitz of cities on the coast. However, it is home to Fortune 500 companies like ConAgra foods and Mutual of Omaha. Rockstar businessman Warren Buffett also calls Omaha home.


9. Raleigh
Raleigh, Chapel Hill, and Durham are collectively called the Research Triangle Area, known for plenty of academic brainpower (Duke, the University of North Carolina, and North Carolina State are all here) and lots of technology and biotech firms. Raleigh also has a diverse arts scene and is home to three state museums, all of which are free to the public.


10. Seattle
Though Starbucks may be one of its most well-known corporate citizens, there is a lot more than coffee being brewed here. Forbes.com noted the Emerald City’s aerospace and global trade professions. As for style of living, Seattle is known for rain and music. Washington also produces more apples than any other state.


11. San Antonio
Sometimes called the gateway to the Southwest, San Antonio is known for tourist attractions like the Riverwalk and the Alamo. Fortune 500 Companies include SBC Communications and Valero Energy.


12. Birmingham
If you like the charm of the Old South, you can still find it in this city, home of Southern Living magazine. But Birmingham isn’t all seersucker; an eclectic bar called The Garage was named one of the top ten bars in the country worth traveling for by GQ magazine.


13. Albuquerque
The southwestern city is marked by the Sandia Mountains to the east, where locals ski, hike, and bike. The economy is high-tech and the city is known for its low cost of doing business.


14. Nashville
The county music capital of the world has a diverse economy that includes insurance, banking, and printing. And there’s a chance your waitress will soon be discovered as the next Dolly Parton.


15. Little Rock
The economic center of Arkansas, the city has a diverse economy, though agriculture still accounts for many jobs both in the state and in Little Rock. Bill Clinton lived here as a child and in 2004, the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Library opened to honor him.


16. Denver
Close to the Rocky Mountains, Denver makes a great home for weekend skiers, hikers, and mountain bikers and is not surprisingly ranked the “thinnest” city in America by the American Cancer Society. These skinnys are not complete health nuts though; Colorado also brews more beer than any other state.


17. Wilmington, Delaware
Because of its favorable incorporation laws, many Fortune 500 companies are incorporated in Wilmington. The city’s Irish heritage makes it a great place to be on Saint Patrick’s Day, when the city holds an annual parade and party. Each June, the city’s Italian heritage shines with the annual St. Anthony’s Italian Festival.


18. Dallas
A city known for its healthy ego, “the Big D” is home to companies like Texas Instruments and Southwest Airlines. When work is over, the entertainment of choice is football. Locals love it at all levels, from the Dallas Cowboys to the high-school gridiron.


19. Oklahoma City
Sadly, Oklahoma City is probably best known as the site of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995, the largest act of terrorism on American soil prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks. There is now a memorial and museum there. The city also has a National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum and a diverse economy that includes agriculture, energy, aviation, government, health care, and manufacturing.


20. Honolulu
If you don’t mind being 3,000 miles from the rest of the United States, it is hard to beat the beaches in Hawaii. The economy is driven by tourism and real estate. The lifestyle? It has some of the same headaches as the rest of the country, such as traffic, but maintains a unique culture too.


Do you know one of these cities? Would it be a fun place to live if the right job came calling? Post your comments below.


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