“Situated in the heart of Silicon Valley, San Jose is home to high-profile companies such as Facebook, Google, and PayPal,” Glassdoor community expert Allison Berry tells Fast Company. “San Jose has the highest score for three of our factors: hiring opportunity, job satisfaction, and work-life balance,” she says, even though it comes with a high cost of living.
Equally pricey San Francisco came in a close second place, making the Bay Area the place to be for job seekers. Rounding out the top five are Seattle, Boston, and Washington, D.C.
Dr. Andrew Chamberlain, Glassdoor chief economist, explains that bigger cities aren’t always better. “Many of the nation’s mid-sized cities stand out for offering some of the greatest job prospects combined with salaries that allow people to stretch their dollar further,” he says. Cities such as Seattle and Austin are at the top since they all have rising technology communities, great institutions for higher education and research, and affordable neighborhoods. This would also explain why mid-sized cities including Detroit, Cleveland, and Cincinnati made the list for the first time.
To grade the cities, Glassdoor looked at the 50 most populated U.S. metros (according to population data from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget) and scored them across four factors:
- Hiring opportunity as determined by the ratio of active job openings to population.
- Cost of living as determined by the ratio of median annual base salary to median metro home value.
- Job satisfaction ratings per metro based on at least 1,500 company reviews shared by local employees on Glassdoor over the past year.
- Work-life balance ratings per metro based on at least 1,500 work-life balance ratings shared by local employees on Glassdoor over the past year.
Each factor is weighted equally, and the overall scores are also graded on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 as the highest potential score. The map below shows the city’s ranking, as well as the number of job openings and the top three positions available in the area. Hover over a city to see information about it.
“Both work-life balance and affordability matter to job seekers when they are looking for a new job,” says Berry. “With this report, we balanced those factors equally along with hiring opportunity (how easy it is to get a job), cost of living, and overall job satisfaction to get a true sense of those cities that are best for all four,” she says.
Berry notes that this is the first year that the report added a fourth factor of work-life balance to rank the cities. “Given employee satisfaction with work-life balance has decreased in recent years, according to Glassdoor data, it is an important consideration when finding a new job or moving to a new city,” she says. Berry explains Glassdoor has seen an increase in the number of employees searching for ways to balance their work schedules with a healthy life outside of the office–whether this includes work-from-home days, amenities like unlimited paid time off, or even a new job.
Both San Jose and San Francisco scored highest for job satisfaction and work-life balance (3.5 on each for each city). San Diego (No. 21 overall) came in at 3.4 for job satisfaction, and the rest of the cities hovered between 3.1 and 3.3 in both areas.
“The scores are middling because many employees are now connected to their work 24/7 thanks to technology, often checking their email and putting in extra hours on nights, weekends, and even when they’re out on vacation in many cases,” Glassdoor’s career trend analyst Scott Dobroski told Fast Company in an earlier interview.
This is not only true in tech jobs, but in the health care industry as well. As the second most popular industry for jobs, Berry says that it’s led to high demand-for-hire and compensation for employees. “More than 38,000 jobs were added in the health care industry in the most recent jobs report, and several health care professions such as physician’s assistant and pharmacy manager have topped several of our recent reports,” she says. That demand is partly responsible for the cities debuting on the list such as Detroit, Cleveland, and Cincinnati that list jobs such as phlebotomist and medical technologist among the three hottest jobs in the area.
It’s interesting to note that Raleigh, which was No. 1 on Glassdoor’s list in 2015, has fallen to the No. 8 spot, despite the presence of major employers such as IBM, Cisco, and SAS. Berry points out that Raleigh still ranked consistently high across the four main factors. “Not only are current employees indicating they’re very satisfied with their jobs and work-life balance,” says Berry, “Raleigh is also an affordable place to live and buy a home, and still has an active job market.”