“American carnage” is getting harder to find.
In his swearing-in speech on Jan. 20, President Donald Trump lamented the “rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation.” He painted a dark image of the American heartland in tatters, and declared, “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”
The nation apparently listened, because the heartland Trump described as moribund just eight months ago is showing definitive signs of life. In the latest annual list of the 50 best cities for jobs by employment site Glassdoor, 12 of the top 25 are in the Midwest, eight are in the South and only a handful are on the coasts. Trump, of course, carried much of the Midwest and South during last year’s presidential election, with his appeal to the “forgotten men and women” of America. His opponent Hillary Clinton carried most of the East and West Coasts, where out-of-touch elitists supposedly live.
Maybe the forgotten men and women are getting their revenge.
The top cities in the Glassdoor list don’t necessarily have the lowest unemployment rates in the land. In No. 1. Pittsburgh, for example, the unemployment rate is 5.4%, a full point higher than the national average. But Glassdoor included other factors such as cost of living and its own proprietary measures of job satisfaction in each city based on worker surveys and quality of available jobs. “Cost of living is the driving factor that brings up Midwest cities, and drops cities like New York to the bottom,” says Glassdoor community expert Scott Dobroski.
Here are the top 10 cities:
New federal data show there are 6.2 million jobs open nationwide, the most in the 17 years the government has been tracking such numbers. Many employers say they can’t find enough workers. The Yahoo Finance Trumponomics Report Card shows that the economy under Trump has improved from a B grade in May to an A- now. That comes largely from an economy that was improving when Trump took office and in some ways has strengthened since he this year. A robust stock market helps.
Workers can’t just show up in a top job city and get a sweet job with unlimited pay. But the top cities do tend to have a mix of higher-skill white-collar jobs open, along with middle-skill blue-collar jobs. “The Midwest cities are keeping a mix of traditional American roots in place while growing into modern, sophisticated cities,” Dobroski says. “Every company is now a tech company. They all have a web and mobile presence now, and collect data as well.”
Coastal cities aren’t down and out. San Jose, Calif. — the heart of Silicon Valley — has the highest rate of job openings per population, and San Francisco ranks third (behind Raleigh-Durham). But the sky-high cost of real estate in northern California pushes those two tech hubs down to the lower half of the best cities list. New York, with its huge population and high cost of living, ranks below average for job openings per population and affordability; overall, the city ranks 46th.
At the bottom of the list are Miami, Houston, Riverside, Calif., Buffalo, N.Y., and Sacramento, Calif. Houston and Miami are now contending with the aftermath of hurricanes (not a factor in the Glassdoor rankings) and even Buffalo has a few diehard fans. But job seekers might be better off looking elsewhere.
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Rick Newman is the author of four books, including Rebounders: How Winners Pivot from Setback to Success. Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman