Affordable U.S. Cities with Great Job Growth in 2018

Would you be willing to move for a new job? For many Americans, the answer is no. Over the past 10 years, just 11% of job seekers relocated for work, a study by Challenger, Gray & Christmas found. In the previous decade (1996-2006), nearly 19% of people packed up the U-Haul in search of better opportunities. Today’s relocation rate is down 72% from the mid-80s, when more than one-third of people moved for a new job.

For American workers who are either struggling to find employment or are unhappy in their current job, it might be time to think about a change of scenery. Relocating for work does come with risks and the costs associated with it are no longer tax deductible. But it does have the potential to jumpstart your career.

If you’re ready for a change, check out these U.S. cities, which had strong job growth in 2018, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They’re also relatively affordable, with average home selling prices close to the national median of $255,000, and have low unemployment rates.

1. Midland, Texas  

Midland, Texas billboard

Midland, Texas | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

  • Job growth: 10.1%

The number of jobs in Midland grew by 10% over the past year, an increase of 9,500. The unemployment rate in the West Texas city of roughly 135,000 is 2.2%.

Homes cost a bit more than average here, though, with a median listing price of $309,500, according to Zillow. The median hourly wage is $19.33, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The area’s economic boom is tied to rising oil prices.

2. Mankato, Minnesota

  • Job growth: 7.1%

Employers in Mankato – a city about an hour southwest of Minneapolis — added 3,900 jobs between July 2017 and July 2018, a 7.1% increase. The city also has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the U.S., at 2.9%. The median home listing price is $232,000 and the median hourly wage is $17.13.

3. Kokomo, Indiana

  • Job growth: 6.3%

Kokomo was hit hard by the recession, when unemployment was at 20%, but the city has bounced back. Today, the unemployment rate is just 3.5%, and employers added 2,600 jobs from July 2017 to July 2018. The median home value was $85,300. The median wage is $17.32 an hour.

4. Kankakee, Illinois

  • Job growth: 5.9%

Kankakee, a small city about 60 miles south of Chicago, added 2,700 jobs in the last year. While unemployment is at 4.7%, slightly higher than the national average of 3.9%, home prices are low, with a median listing price of $84,900. It’s one of just a handful of Illinois metro areas to recover all the jobs it lost during the Great Recession, according to Illinois Policy. The median wage is $16.53.

5. Elkhart, Indiana

elkhart indiana factory

A man assembles an RV at the Jayco factory in Elkhart, Indiana. | Mira Oberman/AFP/Getty Images

  • Job growth: 5.6%

Elkhart employers added 7,700 jobs between July 2017 and July 2018. The unemployment rate is 2.6%. Median listing price data isn’t available from Zillow, but the average home in the city has a value of $130,500. The median wage in the metro area is $16.70. Elkhart is known as the “RV Capital of the World,” and more than 80% of the world’s RVs are built there.

6. Greeley, Colorado

  • Job growth: 5.4%

Employers added 5,500 jobs in Greeley from 2017 to 2018, a 5.4% increase. The city is about 50 miles northeast of Denver, and unemployment is at 2.8%. The median listing price for homes is $313,375 and the median wage is $18.36.

7. Orlando, Florida  

  • Job growth: 4.3%

The biggest city on our list, Orlando added 53,500 jobs from 2017 to 2018, a 4.3% increase. Unemployment is 3.6%. The median home selling price is $232,300 and the median hourly wage is $15.52. The city ranks seventh in the U.S. for economic growth, according to the Miliken Institute.

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