This Is the Absolute Worst City to Live in If You’re Trying to Find a Job

Worker lying on ground

Worker gave up trying to find a good job | Thinkstock

A change in location can be the difference between finding a good job and hopelessly sending out more resumes. The job market has improved in recent years, but more progress is clearly being felt in certain areas of the country.

WalletHub, a personal finance site designed to help you make smarter financial decisions, recently analyzed the nation’s 150 most populated cities to find the best and worst places for the unemployed to land a job. The analysis includes 23 key metrics across two key dimensions, “Job Market” and “Socioeconomic Environment.” The former was assigned a heavier weighting and includes components like job opportunities, employment growth, unemployment rate, and monthly median starting salary. The latter includes components like median annual income, time spent working, and benefits.

The best-ranking cities overall include Scottsdale, Arizona, Plano, Texas, Orlando, Florida, and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. California is a hit or miss. San Francisco and Rancho Cucamonga are the No. 5 and No. 6 best cities for jobs, respectively. In fact, Rancho Cucamonga has the highest employment growth in the nation. Yet the Golden State is also home to some of the worst-ranking cities.

Let’s take a look at the 12 worst cities in America to find a good job, based on the analysis of 150 cities.

12. Mobile, Alabama

  • Job market rank: 130
  • Socioeconomic environment rank: 142

Mobile ranks as the No. 12 worst city in America to find employment. Job security and workplace accessibility are its two worst-ranking metrics, while the city’s high unemployment rate of about 7% is also near the bottom. Mobile’s employment growth is under 1%, ranking No. 121 out of the 150 cities. On a positive note, Mobile’s monthly median starting salary is $2,503, slightly better than average. Working and commuting time (8.43 hours) is also better than average.

11. Birmingham, Alabama

Birmingham, Alabama on a map | iStock

Birmingham, Alabama on a map |

  • Job market rank: 127
  • Socioeconomic environment rank: 146

Staying in Alabama, Birmingham ranks as the No. 11 worst city in America to find a good job. The city is almost last in the country in terms of annual transportation costs, job security, and disability-friendliness of employers. Over 14% of workers are in poverty, ranking No. 138. The median annual household income is only $33,872, ranking No. 139. Birmingham’s unemployment rate is about average, and the city ranks No. 30 in access to internships. Perhaps too many internships and not enough full-time jobs with benefits?

10. Rochester, New York

The Strong Museum/Roc Brewing/Facebook

Rochester, New York | The Strong Museum/Roc Brewing/Facebook

  • Job market rank: 143
  • Socioeconomic environment rank: 75

On the surface, Rochester ranks relatively well in several metrics. The city’s working and commute time ranks No. 5, while workplace accessibility ranks No. 9. Its industry variety ranks No. 23. However, several other key metrics places Rochester as the No. 10 worst city to find a good job. The unemployment rate (No. 130), employment growth (No. 126), full-time employment (No. 140), and disability-friendliness of employers (No. 137) are all near the bottom. The median annual household income of $31,210 ranks a dismal No. 143.

9. Tallahassee, Florida

Tallahassee, Florida

Tallahassee, Florida | Pavone

  • Job market rank: 146
  • Socioeconomic environment rank: 52

Job seekers need to be careful about which Florida city they choose. While Orlando and Miami are among the best cities in America to find a good job, Tallahassee ranks as the No. 9 worst. The city ranks dead last when it comes to full-time employment and workers in poverty. In fact, 20.1% of workers are in poverty. Job security is almost last at No. 147, and the median annual household income is $40,908 (No. 113). Workers may find comfort that the unemployment rate and access to internships ranks about average, while the disability-friendliness of employers, employee benefits, and workplace accessibility is above average. Interestingly, Tallahassee has the best working and commuting time in the country.

8. Cleveland, Ohio

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 6: A Cleveland Browns fan expresses their disappointment with the team during the second half against the Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 6, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Bengals defeated the Browns 37-3. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Cleveland, Ohio | Jason Miller/Getty Images

  • Job market rank: 140
  • Socioeconomic environment rank: 140

It’s a good thing Lebron James gives Cleveland something to cheer about. The city ranks as the No. 8 worst city in America to find a good job. Cleveland’s median annual household income is a depressing $25,840, tied with Hialeah, Florida for the worst in the nation. This helps lead to 15.3% of workers living in poverty (No. 144). Employee benefits (No. 133), annual transportation costs (No. 149), full-time employment (No. 139), and job security (No. 132) are all found near the bottom of the rankings. As a positive note, job opportunities are slightly better than average, and Cleveland even ranks No. 19 in terms of industry variety. Internships are also plentiful.

7. Worcester, Massachusetts

Worcester, Massachusetts, USA

Worcester, Massachusetts | Pavone

  • Job market rank: 145
  • Socioeconomic environment rank: 68

Worcester ranks as the No. 7 worst city to find a good job. The city doesn’t rank in the bottom 10 for any one metric besides disability-friendliness of employers (No. 142), but several poorly-ranking metrics keeps it among the worst overall. There’s little to cheer about when it comes to employment growth (No. 129), employment outlook (No. 121), underemployment rate (No. 125), job security (No. 121), and full-time employment (No. 122). The median annual household income is $38,212, ranking No. 128. However, access to internships and employee benefits rank better than average.

6. Oxnard, California

Downtown Oxnard/Facebook

Worker in Oxnard, California | Downtown Oxnard/Facebook

  • Job market rank: 144
  • Socioeconomic environment rank: 116

We’re a long ways from thriving San Francisco. Oxnard ranks as the No. 6 worst city to find a good job. Employee benefits (No. 142) and internship access (No. 141) are among the worst in the country, while housing affordability (No. 134), job opportunities (No. 132), monthly median starting salary (No. 131), and job security (No. 129) aren’t impressing the researchers. Yet only 8.9% of the workers are in poverty, ranking better than average. Employment growth ranks about average.

5. Buffalo, New York

Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Good luck landing on your feet in Buffalo | Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

  • Job market rank: 147
  • Socioeconomic environment rank: 63

Buffalo ranks as the No. 5 worst city to find a good job. It’s worst-ranking metric is full-time employment (No. 144), with the median annual household income not too far behind (No. 140). Furthermore, 14% of workers are in poverty, and the unemployment rate is at about 7%. Workers may be able to take comfort that housing affordability ranks No. 27, while the underemployment rate and employment growth rank about average.

4. Newark, New Jersey

Newark, New jersey

Newark, New Jersey | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

  • Job market rank: 142
  • Socioeconomic environment rank: 149

Newark ranks as the No. 4 worst city to find a good job. The city’s median annual household income of $26,176 is one of the lowest in the nation (No. 148). This helps lead to one of the least affordable housing markets (No. 146), and a situation where almost 13% of workers are in poverty. Employee benefits (No. 147) and the unemployment rate (No. 145) are other economic sore spots. Employment growth ranks at a surprising No. 24.

3. Bakersfield, California

City of Bakersfield

Bakersfield, CA | City of Bakersfield

  • Job market rank: 149
  • Socioeconomic environment rank: 106

Bakersfield ranks as the No. 3 worst city to find a good job. Despite a median annual household income of $53,510 (No. 34) and affordable housing (No. 30), Bakersfield ranks near the bottom for job opportunities (No. 147), employment growth (No. 142), and the unemployment rate (No. 146). About 10% of workers are in poverty (No. 84), while job security ranks No. 137. On the positive side, the job underemployment rate is the second best in the nation. In other words, having a job here is a clear hit or miss.

2. Fresno, California

Fresno, California pinned on a map

Fresno on a map |

  • Job market rank: 148
  • Socioeconomic environment rank: 137

Fresno ranks as the No. 2 worst city to find a good job. It ranks No. 149 in terms of job opportunities and unemployment rate. Other poor-ranking metrics include full-time employment (No. 138), employee benefits (No. 137), and annual transportation costs (No. 130). Almost 15% of workers are in poverty (No. 142). However, the underemployment rate is low and job security is better than average.

1. Detroit, Michigan

The Detroit skyline.

The Detroit Skyline |

  • Job market rank: 150
  • Socioeconomic environment rank: 148

From auto bailouts to municipal bankruptcy, Detroit is often the poster child for economic turmoil. Motor City ranks as the worst city in America to find a good job. It ranks worst in regard to job opportunities, unemployment rate, and disability-friendliness of employers. Nearly 20% of workers are in poverty, ranking No. 149. Full-time employment and job benefits are also depressing, ranking at No. 147 and No. 143, respectively. The median annual household income of $27,035 ranks No. 146.

Recently, Ford announced via a press release it is canceling plans for a new $1.6 billion plant in Mexico, and will be investing $700 million in the Flat Rock, Michigan, plant’s expansion. The automaker estimates it will add 700 direct new jobs in Flat Rock. The move is aimed at creating a factory capable of producing high-tech electrified and autonomous vehicles, plus the iconic Ford Mustang and Lincoln Continental.

More from The Cheat Sheet: