Monday, March 21, 2011

Best Cities To Live In USA; Unemployment

The United States was ranked the Best Country to Live in 2010. But lets face it the U.S. is one big and vast country! There are a lot of internal factors one needs to consider when choosing the best cities to live in the U.S. In trying to find the best cities to live in USA one definitely needs to consider the employment rate or as it is more often defined by the opposite, the unemployment rate. As of January the unemployment rate for the United States as a whole was 9.8%. There are many factors that go into the figuring of that rate and it is often argued as to how accurate it really is but the rate does serve to accurately rank different areas since the same formula is applied to each locations.

First let’s take a look at the ten best ranking cities for unemployment in the USA:

Lowest Rates of Unemployment in the USA in January 2011
Lincoln, NE
Fargo, ND-MN
Bismarck, ND
Ames, IA
Iowa City, IA
Grand Forks, ND-MN
Midland, TX
Burlington-South Burlington, VT
Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA
Portsmouth, NH-ME
Sioux Falls, SD

Following on the heels of this chart it is interesting to note also the ten worst U.S. cities for unemployment in the USA:

Highest Rates of Unemployment in the USA in January 2011
Ocean City, NJ
Visalia-Porterville, CA
Fresno, CA
Modesto, CA
Hanford-Corcoran, CA
Stockton, CA
Yuba City, CA
Merced, CA
Yuma, AZ
El Centro, CA

It would take a doctorate dissertation to truly discover or at least theorize as to why these areas have such a wide difference in employment but there are some things that standout when you look at them and make some surface pronouncements about why they weathered the recession contrary to one another and might give you a good idea of what could be a best place to retire in USA a location but that will be a whole other where to retire post all together.

For the purposes of this post let’s just look at one city that might be a good place to retire. Lincoln, NE and see what they may have going for them to insulate them from this and other downturns in the economy. And just in case you are thinking this is a fluke that they survived this recession unscathed, their unemployment has never been above 5% since unemployment statistics have been kept. They apparently are doing something right.

Lincoln is the place where several large companies house their national and regional headquarters and in that research it was determined by some to be the best place to retire. In it can also be found a major research university. Plus the entire region is encircled by farms that export all over the world. These things bring a disproportionate amount to national and international jobs and income to the relatively small region.

Additionally there are about 24,000 university students that attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Lincoln is the home to the state capital and all the government jobs that brings and as pointed out earlier the surrounding farm enterprise provides many stable jobs.

One other thing that may have led to the stable economy is the fact that the housing boom just seemed to pass right over Lincoln. It may be the conservative nature of the people that live there and taking speculative risk just isn’t in the makeup of the residents, the businesses or their lenders, so there was no real estate bubble to recover from.

On the other end of the spectrum, let’s look at #7 on our worst cities for unemployment, Merced, CA. It, like Lincoln is surrounded by farm land but unlike Lincoln this was a poor farming community before the housing boom of the 2000s. It was attractive for the cheap land (by California standards) and easy credit so the building industry skyrocketed. Unfortunately many of those jobs have disappeared and subsequently those people that moved here with the dream of reasonable housing and jobs are now out of both.

To add fuel to the speculation fire, in 2005 the state built the Merced campus of the University of California with a projected enrollment of 25,000 but as of now there are only about 3,500 students. The builders translated the school into even more reason to be confident about the future and speculation went wild in anticipation of filling those units with the people attracted by the University. It all fell apart and the local economy is devastated with a unemployment rate consistently more than 20%. With no industry or manufacturing here of any significance and because of the collapse of the construction industry it only leaves the farms and some service industry jobs that generally don’t pay much or provide anything in way of income taxes for the state and local government.
It is not hard to ascertain from just these two little snapshots into these very different communities as to why the unemployment is different. Hopefully this will give you some insight into how to pick what might be the best cities to live in the USA, or just the cheapest places to live as you go about your quest for your perfect spot where ever it might be.

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