Employee Friendly - Global Trade Magazine
  October 2nd, 2015 | Written by

Employee Friendly

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ASHEVILLE, North Carolina
Population: 87,236
Unemployment: 5.0 percent
Median Home Price: $235,500

Just this year, Asheville found itself ranked as a best city in which to start a business and to work, as a friendliest city—to both pet and human—the coolest, coziest and best place for food and music. It’s been called the most romantic and the best for drinking (coincidence?). The city’s dining scene has been dubbed “Foodtopian” and, combined with the vibrant craft beer scene, it provides lots in the way of startups, jobs and the good life.

Population: 212,113
Unemployment: 5.9 percent
Median Home Price: $177,000

Once known as the Pittsburgh of the South, Birmingham is transitioning to a more diversified economic landscape. That starts with a revitalized downtown offering not only entertainment and cultural options but a strengthening business and job market; the retail vacancy rate fell by nearly 2 percent, one of the nation’s biggest gains. Stick around once you’re done working since Birmingham’s low cost of living and good quality of life make it one of the best places to retire.

Population: 258,959
Unemployment: 5.3 percent
Median home price: $89,450

Buffalo has been aggressive about getting business and people into the area, whether through its Urban Homestead Program that offers homes at $1 if buyers restore and live in them for three years, and through Start-Up NY, which offers companies willing to expand into space at the local state university zero personal or businesses taxes for owners and employees for 10 years. And that’s on top of a cost of living 10 percent lower than the national average.

Population: 45,775
Unemployment: 4.9 percent
Median home price: $223,134

Louisville and Indianapolis are each about an hour away, but why would you leave a city boasting 700 acres of parks, more than 20 miles of walkable trails and urban landscape ranked sixth by the American Institute of Architects for architectural innovation? Columbus’ economy continues to diversify from industrial manufacturing—Fortune 500 engine manufacturer Cummins is headquartered there—into other sectors such as healthcare and advanced manufacturing, and taxes have remained stable for more than a decade.

Population: 822,553
Unemployment: 4.2 percent
Median home price: $135,000

Though Ohio’s largest city, Columbus maintains a small town feel—especially on Saturdays during football season—in part because it is home to Ohio State University. The diverse local economy features jobs with big companies in education, financial services and medical research. Columbus is not only home to four local Fortune 500 companies but many very small businesses with just one to four employees. In fact, its 19,341 such businesses is more than twice the national average for metro areas.

Population: 78,960
Unemployment: 4.2 percent
Median home price: $183,750

Fayetteville offers low cost of living, a local economic engine in the University of Arkansas (which increased enrollment by 10,000) and close proximity to job creators such as Walmart, Proctor & Gamble, Coca-Cola and Rubbermaid. Add in lots of walking trails and progressive laws such as one allowing residents to grow and sell food out of their homes and it’s no wonder Forbes named this one of the best places for businesses or careers.

Population: 610,613
Unemployment: 4.3 percent
Median home price: $185,000

OKC is a place that certainly gives a person a lot of job options and businesses lots of incentives to hire new talent. Consider that the city is home to nearly 19,000 small businesses, nearly twice the national average. Cost of living is lower than the national average and the local quality jobs incentive program offers cash back to companies that create new positions that pay better than the local average wage.

PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania
Population: 305,841
Unemployment: 5.4 percent
Median home price: $149,900

No city was as identified with an industry as Pittsburgh was with steel. But things change and the city has transitioned from a steel town to a smart one. Pittsburgh has increased its college educated population nearly 40 percent since 2000 and is home to Carnegie Mellon University’s cutting edge Robotics Institute. One of the most literate cities in America, as well as one of its most bikeable and hikeable, Pittsburgh was also dubbed the next great food city by Bon Appetit.

Population: 116,288
Unemployment: 3.6 percent
Median home price: $394,668

Provo has the highest level of well-being of any city in the U.S., according to a Gallup/Healthways study that looked at factors such as work environment and emotional and physical health. It was the second time Provo topped the list and one reason residents feel so good—besides the spectacular Wasatch mountains that border the city and the myriad outdoor activities in and around it—is that Provo is one of the nation’s safest cities, and has 4.8% job growth and low taxes.

SAN JOSE, California
Population: 998,537
Unemployment: 4.1 percent
Median home price: $750,000

As you’d expect from Silicon Valley, about half of its residents have college degrees. What’s more, locals with graduate degrees make nearly $40,000 a year more than their counterparts nationwide—the $92,000 median income is highest in the nation. And then there’s the fact that the area turns out so many innovations—27 tech patents per 1,000 residents, the nation’s highest—the U.S. Patent Office has a permanent office at city hall to help ambitious workers looking to move up.

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