Unemployment: 5.9 percent
Leading Industries: Electronics, Technology
Once an industrial and manufacturing town, Baltimore’s workforce has gone through a transformation to accommodate the city’s growing reputation as a tech hotspot. The tech sector has grown by nearly 40 percent since 2001, helped by its reach into education, fashion and computers. STEM (science, tech, engineering, math) job employees grew by 17 percent over the same time, leading CBRE Tech Talent Report to rank Baltimore eighth for high growth in the number of tech professionals.
Unemployment: 6.4 percent
Leading Industries: Manufacturing, Engineering
A work(force) in progress, Cleveland is aggressive in its efforts to attract top talent through things like GlobalCleveland.org. Apparently it’s working—16 percent of the local workforce between the ages of 25 and 34 hold an advance degree, up 14 percent from 2009, placing the city eighth nationally and ahead of Chicago and Seattle. That’s important as the city transitions from a heavy reliance on manufacturing and diversifies into industries such as science and engineering.
Unemployment: 4.8 percent
Leading Industries: Bio-science, Education
When major employers include the likes of the National Clonal Germplasm Repository and Hewlett-Packard, which developed the laptop computer at its local campus, it figures you’re drawing from a smart workforce. Corvallis was ranked No. 1 by Forbes for education—more than half of its residents have a bachelor’s and a quarter have an advanced degree. That talent pool—much of it from Oregon State University—is one reason startups thrive here, being created at about twice the national average.
Unemployment: 4.0 percent
Leading Industries: Technology, Telecommunication
Dallas sometimes battles its cowboy or oily (black gold) image. But the fact is the city has a great concentration of highly skilled workers to fuel the city’s fast-growing sectors in information technology, telecommunications and high-tech, which have given Big D a new nickname: Silicon Prairie. Consider that nearly half of Texas’ high tech-workers do their jobs in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and nationally the area ranks seventh for advanced industry jobs (329,140).
FARGO, North Dakota
Unemployment: 2.8 percent
Leading Industries: Agriculture, Manufacturing
Forbes named Fargo the best small city to start a business in part because it has one of the youngest—55 percent of residents are under 35—and most productive workforces in the nation. The local economy, which is projected to expand 5.5 percent through 2016, has grown in areas such as food processing, manufacturing and technology—and the workforce has grown with it. The number of people working in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) jobs is up 40 percent since 2001.
FORT COLLINS, Colorado
Unemployment: 3.8 percent
Leading Industries: Clean energy, Bio-science
If a workforce is a supply chain, Fort Collins has one of the best ones going. Local public schools rank high nationally; more than 80 percent of high school graduates enroll in college. Many attend local Colorado State, dubbed one of the nation’s most entrepreneurial universities. Not surprisingly, those students have in turn made the area a hotbed for tech startups while becoming much sought after talent for tech giants such as Hewlett-Packard and Agilent Technologies.
Unemployment: 4.3 percent
Leading Industries: Education, Medical
This is a highly educated, highly skilled workforce that gets paid as such; median household income is above $90,000. Large international tech and science-related companies such as Allergan and Broadcom are headquartered in Irvine, which has the lowest crime rate for a city of more than 100,000 and one of the best school systems in the country. University of California, Irvine, with an emphasis in medicine, tech and business, was recently ranked No. 1 on a list of U.S. universities under 50 years old.
Unemployment: 5.5 percent
Leading Industries: Financial services, Machinery
One of the most educated, able and adaptable workforces in the country, Milwaukee workers turn out Harley-Davidsons while providing its financing and insurance. There are about 100,000 college students in the city split between numerous institutions as well as six Fortune 500 firms (including Harley, Northwestern Mutual, Rockwell Automation). While workers increasingly populate the financial and service sectors, Milwaukee still has about 20 percent of its workforce involved in manufacturing, one of the highest rates in the country.
Unemployment: 5.4 percent
Leading Industries: Business services, Tourism
Phoenix’s workforce strength is a numbers game: The city has averaged 4 percent annual growth for four decades and is now the sixth largest city in the country with a workforce to match. More than a third of Arizona’s labor force works in Phoenix’s metropolitan area and nearby Arizona State has one of the country’s largest enrollments with more than 70,000 students. While tourism remains an employment mainstay, areas such as tech, financial services and aerospace are fast-growing.
Unemployment: 5.2 percent
Leading Industries: Aircraft manufacturing, Healthcare
Aircraft manufacturing is so integral to Wichita’s economic landscape that the area calls itself “Air Capital of the World.” In fact, demand was so great for skilled aerospace workers with the latest skills that a partnership between local government, colleges and businesses gave birth to the National Center for Aviation training which turns out a steady pool of graduates ready to work. Today, Wichita and the surrounding region rank first in employment in aircraft and parts manufacturing.
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