Money and Opportunity: The 10 Best (and Worst) Places for Job Seekers

The characters from the film Grapes of Wrath look out over California, the land of money, jobs, and opportunity

The characters from the film Grapes of Wrath look out over California, the land of money, jobs, and opportunity | 20th Century Fox

Job seekers are all looking for the same thing: Opportunity. Well, that and as much money as they can get for their services. But clearly, opportunity and money don’t grow on trees. We all witnessed just how much of a role economic conditions played in the past election cycle, and it became obvious that just because some cities and industries are booming, a lot of people are feeling the squeeze.

If you’re on the job hunt, or thinking about heading out onto the trail, you may want to restrict your search to certain places. That doesn’t mean you’re strictly stuck looking in high-growth areas like Silicon Valley, however. There are many areas all across the country that are seeing accelerated job and salary growth.

A new analysis from Get Rich Slowly ranked the country’s largest 343 counties to give you a cheat sheet, of sorts.

“Get Rich Slowly analyzed data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, comparing both job growth over the past year and absolute wage levels for 343 of the largest counties in the United States,” the analysis said. “Based on average rankings in these categories, what follows is a look at 10 counties that are decidedly winning the job war and 10 that are lagging badly behind.”

You can look at the entire analysis to see where your area ranks, but here are the top 10 best and worst counties according to Get Rich Slowly’s team.

10. Hudson County, New Jersey

A polo match in Jersey City

A polo match in Jersey City | Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Veuve Clicquot

Just across the river from New York City, Hudson County landed at the No. 10 spot for the counties with strongest job and wage growth. It had 3.2% job growth and an average weekly wage of $1,523.

9. Santa Clara County, California

San Jose, California | iStock

San Jose, California | iStock.com

You knew Silicon Valley and its surrounding area would make the list. Santa Clara County’s job growth was 3.1%, and it had the nation’s second-highest average weekly wage average of $2,210.

8. Olmsted County, Minnesota

A view of downtown Rochester, MN

A view of downtown Rochester, MN | Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Olmsted County in Minnesota made the top 10. It’s home to Rochester, which in turn is home to the world-famous Mayo Clinic. Job growth was 4.1%, and the county had an average weekly wage of $1,162.

7. King County, Washington

Seattle Cityscape

Downtown Seattle | iStock.com/welcomia

King County encompasses Seattle, Bellevue, and the surrounding area. It’s home to Microsoft, Starbucks, Amazon, and many other big companies. The job market grew at 3.6%, and average weekly wages are $1,456.

6. Loudoun County, Virginia

Loudoun County, Virginia from above

Loudoun County, Virginia from above | Loudon County via Facebook

Loudoun County is just outside of the Washington D.C. area. For some perspective, it’s where Dulles International Airport is located. It had 6.2% job growth and an average weekly wage of $1,193.

5. Williamson County, Tennessee

The Williamson County, Tennessee courthouse

The Williamson County, Tennessee courthouse | Williamson County via Facebook

Williamson County is located on the outskirts of Nashville. It actually had the highest rate of job growth within the past year at 7.9%. Average weekly wages were $1,193.

4. Mecklenburg County, North Carolina

Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

Charlotte, North Carolina | iStock.com/Sean Pavone

The Charlotte area in North Carolina has also been an area of explosive growth. The average weekly wage was $1,365, and job growth was pegged at 4.1%.

3. Benton County, Arkansas

U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton (R) (R-AR) talks with patrons in a Bentonville cafe

U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton (R) (R-AR) talks with patrons in a Bentonville cafe | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The home of Wal-Mart is benefiting from solid economic growth. Benton County’s job growth was 5%, and the weekly average wage was $1,266.

2. Fulton County, Georgia

Atlanta, Georgia, USA downtown city

Atlanta, Georgia | iStock.com/Sean Pavone

Fulton County and the Atlanta area are going through a bit of a boom. Average weekly wages were $1,562 over the past year, and job growth was 4%.

1. San Francisco County, California

San Francisco at sunset

San Francisco waterfront | iStock.com

It may not be much of a surprise, but San Francisco took the top spot. The nation’s hottest economy, San Francisco County had 4.8% job growth, and weekly average wages were $2,054 — nearly double the national average.

Now, the bottom 10 economies, from GetRichSlowly’s data.

10. St. Clair County, Illinois

St. Louis downtown

St. Louis downtown from across the river | iStock.com/f11photo

St. Clair County is right across the river from St. Louis, Missouri. Unfortunately, it’s home to a pretty abysmal economic situation. Job growth was 0.5%, and the average weekly wage was $761.

9. Broome County, New York

A man walks through struggling downtown Binghamton

A man walks through struggling downtown Binghamton | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Broome County is home to Binghamton, New York, among other cities. It’s not faring much better than St. Clair County, either. Job growth was 0.5%, and the weekly average wage was $758.

8. Stark County, Ohio

Supporters cheer for Donald Trump during a rally in Canton

Supporters cheer for Donald Trump during a rally in Canton | Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

Stark County, Ohio is home to the Football Hall of Fame. And a bleak economic situation. The weekly average wage was $726, and job growth was 0.6%.

7. Cleveland County, Oklahoma

The University of Oklahoma campus in Norman

The University of Oklahoma campus in Norman | The University of Oklahoma via Facebook

South of Oklahoma City, Cleveland County is going through a rough spell. The average weekly wage was $700, and job growth was only 0.7%.

6. St. Louis County, Minnesota

duluth-minnesota

Duluth, Minnesota | Visit Duluth via Facebook

St. Louis County in Minnesota is in the state’s far northern reaches. The job market actually contracted for a growth rate of -0.9%, and the weekly wage, on average, was $786.

5. Webb County, Texas

laredo texas

Street scene in Laredo, Texas | Visit Laredo via Facebook

The area around Laredo, Texas and the Mexican border is still in development mode. The average weekly paycheck was only $650, and the job growth rate was 0.8%.

4. Caddo County, Louisiana

Thousands of sunflowers line a country road north of Shreveport, Louisiana

Thousands of sunflowers line a country road north of Shreveport, Louisiana | Mario Villafuerte/Getty Images

Caddo County is in northern Louisiana and includes the Shreveport area. Job growth was awful, contracting 1% last year, and weekly average wages were $776.

3. Cameron County, Texas

The Rio Grande snakes between Mexico and the United States

The Rio Grande snakes between Mexico and the United States | John Moore/Getty Images

Another county in southern Texas, Cameron County’s job growth was 0.6%, and weekly wages averaged out at $592 — second-worst in the country.

2. Erie County, Pennsylvania

In 2008, then-candidateBarack Obama talks with workers while touring the bolt manufacturer Erie Bolt Company in Erie, Pennsylvania

In 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama talks with workers while touring the bolt manufacturer Erie Bolt Company in Erie, Pennsylvania | Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

The Erie area has had an anemic economy over the past several years. Job growth last year was 1.4%, and weekly wages averaged out at $769.

1. Mahoning County, Ohio

A closed steel plant n Youngstown, Ohio

A closed steel plant in Youngstown, Ohio | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The nation’s worst economy, according to this data set, was in Mahoning County, Ohio. Job growth was only 0.2%, and the average weekly wage was only $683.

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