Best and worst cities to score your dream job

You might need to be willing to move if you want to score your dream job. Some cities offer more prospects in a variety of industries for job seekers, which means you could have a better chance of getting the job you want. Plus, you might get paid a lot more working in one city versus another.

To help you pinpoint which cities are better for job seekers, GOBankingRates analyzed the 75 largest metro areas. We looked at three factors and weighed each equally:

  • Unemployment rate
  • Average weekly wage
  • Number of establishments*

Most of the data is based on the county level. And some of the data — like the unemployment rate — takes the city's metropolitan area into account. If you want to find your dream job, click through to see the cities where you're most likely to find success in your job search.

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Best and worst cities to score your dream job
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Best and worst cities to score your dream job

Worst Cities to Find Your Dream Job

Among the 75 largest cities surveyed, these 15 rank at the bottom. Considered the worst cities on our list to find a dream job, they scored lower on the factors that were taken into consideration: unemployment rate, average weekly wage and number of establishments.

All of these cities but one have an average weekly wage below $1,000. And many have fewer places to work than most of the best cities on our list. However, for each worst city, we pinpoint key industries that might offer job opportunities

Photo credit: Getty

15. Toledo, Ohio

  • Unemployment rate: 4.5%
  • Average weekly wage: $867
  • Establishments: 10,100

Toledo is one of the worst cities to find your dream job. In fact, the Economic Innovation Group ranks it as one of the most distressed large cities based on its economic well-being. And the number of establishments in Toledo is one of the lowest in our rankings. Although the average weekly wage might be unimpressive, at least housing is affordable — Toledo is one of the cheapest places to rent

Job Prospects in Toledo

Toledo has a large transportation and logistics industry. But you might find job opportunities within other major sectors, including advanced manufacturing, alternative energy, automotive production, bioscience and food processing. 

Photo credit: Getty

14. Memphis, Tenn.

  • Unemployment rate: 5.1%
  • Average weekly wage: $974
  • Establishments: 20,000

The unemployment rate in the Memphis area is higher than the national unemployment rate. Plus, job growth has been slower than the nationwide rate, according to Sperling's Best Places. And, Memphis ranks as one of the most distressed large cities, a few spots behind Toledo, according to the Economic Innovation Group.

Job Prospects in Memphis

The logistics industry is a major part of the economy in Memphis, which is the headquarters of FedEx and home to several other distribution centers, according to the Greater Memphis Chamber. Another key industry in Memphis is bioscience — it employs more than 55,500 people. Manufacturing, clean technology, music, film and tourism also are key industries.

But if you're thinking about becoming an entrepreneur in this city, you might want to reconsider. Another GOBankingRates study found that Tennessee is among the worst states to start a business

Photo credit: Getty

13. Tulsa, Okla.

  • Unemployment rate: 4.8%
  • Average weekly wage: $892
  • Establishments: 22,100

The unemployment rate in the Tulsa area increased from November 2015 to November 2016. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate is 4.8 percent compared to 4.1 percent in 2015. Hopefully, for job seekers, the rate goes down soon.

Job Prospects in Tulsa

Tulsa has a variety of industries beyond the oil and gas sector, which is what it's widely known for. For example, it's home to more than 70 aerospace companies, according to the City of Tulsa. Other major sectors include healthcare, technology, manufacturing and transportation.

Find: 15 High-Paying Careers That Won't Kill You 

Photo credit: Getty

12. New Orleans

  • Unemployment rate: 5%
  • Average weekly wage: $925
  • Establishments: 12,100

The unemployment rate in New Orleans is higher than the national average. Plus, the city has fewer establishments than most other places in our rankings, making it one of the worst cities to find your dream job. 

Job Prospects in New Orleans

Along with advanced manufacturing and international trade, the energy sector — which includes oil refineries and petrochemical plants — is a big part of the economy in New Orleans, according to the Greater New Orleans Regional Economic Development.

But perhaps your dream job lies within the leisure and hospitality sector? This industry is also a major source of employment in this tourist destination. 

Photo credit: Getty

11. Las Vegas/Henderson

  • Unemployment rate: 5.1%
  • Average weekly wage: $866
  • Establishments: 55,900

The odds for job seekers in Las Vegas aren't great, considering that the unemployment rate is higher than the national average. Plus, employment has been on a downward trend, although it did increase slightly toward the end of 2016.

Job Prospects in Las Vegas/Henderson

If your dream job is to be an entertainer or work in the gambling industry, Las Vegas could be one of the best cities to live in. But, the city offers job possibilities in other industries. In the Las Vegas and Southern Nevada area, clean technology and alternative energy companies, logistics firms and distributors, healthcare and life sciences companies, and technology businesses have seen growth in recent years. 

Photo credit: Getty

10. Greensboro, N.C.

  • Unemployment rate: 4.8%
  • Average weekly wage: $856
  • Establishments: 14,300

Greensboro has one of the lowest number of establishments in our rankings. And wages are relatively low here compared with wages in the best cities to live in for job seekers. Instead, you might want to move here after your earning years are over — Greensboro is actually one of the best cities to live in if you're a retiree.

See: 50 Cheapest Places to Retire  

Job Prospects in Greensboro

Greensboro has many aviation companies — from jet manufacturing to overnight delivery services — that provide employment, according to the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce. It's also home to life sciences companies, such as pharmaceutical firms and agriculture biotechnology firms. Other key industries include manufacturing, business services and logistics.

Photo credit: Getty

9. Anchorage, Alaska

  • Unemployment rate: 5.8%
  • Average weekly wage: $1,050
  • Establishments: 8,300

Anchorage has the smallest number of establishments in our rankings, along with one other city. Although the average weekly wage here tops $1,000, the unemployment rate is higher than the national average. Loss of jobs in mining, manufacturing, and oil and gas industries has partly contributed to the city's rise in unemployment, according to the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation. 

Job Prospects in Anchorage

Although the unemployment rate here is higher than the national average, it's actually lower than the statewide rate in Alaska, according to the BLS. Nonetheless, most major industries in the city have seen job losses. The healthcare sector seems to be one of the only industries that have seen job growth, according to an AEDC report released in October 2016. 

Photo credit: Getty

8. Virginia Beach, Va.

  • Unemployment rate: 4.6%
  • Average weekly wage: $761
  • Establishments: 12,200

Virginia Beach might be one of the best cities to live in if you're trying to save money. But, it's not the best city to find your dream job — especially if you want your dream job to pay a high salary.

This city has the second-lowest average weekly wage in our rankings. Plus, it also has one of the lowest number of establishments. Employment growth in this city, which has a large defense industry, has been lower than job growth nationwide, according to Sperling's.

Virginia Beach oceanfront and three mile boardwalk at night. Virginia Beach is an independent city located in the U.S. state of Virginia. Virginia Beach is a resort city, and the Oceanfront is a main tourist attraction. The city is known for its pristine beaches, coastal cuisine and entertainment. 

Job Prospects in Virginia Beach

In addition to being home to nine major military installations, Virginia Beach also has several defense-related firms, according to the Virginia Beach Economic Development. Maritime and logistics companies also are a key part of the economy in this city. Other key industries include advanced manufacturing, professional services, information services and biomedical sciences.

Photo credit: Getty

7. El Paso, Texas

  • Unemployment rate: 4.6%
  • Average weekly wage: $694
  • Establishments: 14,700

If you want to score a higher starting salary, you might want to skip over this city. El Paso has the lowest average weekly wage in our rankings. It also has one of the fewest number of establishments. Employment in the city was on upward trend — but it has started to slow, according to the BLS. 

Job Prospects in El Paso

The defense industry is a major part of the economy in El Paso, which is home to Fort Bliss. So, you might find job opportunities there or in other key industries, such as health and education services, professional services, trade, transportation and utilities. 

Photo credit: Getty

6. Riverside, Calif.

  • Unemployment rate: 5.5%
  • Average weekly wage: $811
  • Establishments: 59,500

A high unemployment rate and a relatively low average weekly wage makes Riverside one of the worst cities to live in if you want to find your dream job. Recent job growth in the city is higher when compared to the U.S., according to Sperling's. But, employment — for the most part — has been on a downward trend, according to the BLS.

Job Prospects in Riverside

The area's economic growth relies heavily on the logistics sector, according to the University of California, Riverside. However, the city has a variety of other industries, including advanced manufacturing, healthcare, professional services, and food and beverage processing.

Photo credit: Getty

5. Corpus Christi, Texas

  • Unemployment rate: 5.6%
  • Average weekly wage: $844
  • Establishments: 8,300

Corpus Christi has the smallest number of establishments in our rankings, tied with Anchorage. Plus, it has a high unemployment rate and a relatively low average wage. There has also been a decrease in available jobs in Corpus Christi, according to Sperling's.

Job Prospects in Corpus Christi

The city has seen job losses in oil, gas, mining and construction sectors, according to the South Texas Economic Development Center. However, the education and health services sectors have seen job growth. The leisure and hospitality industry is also a big part of the economy in Corpus Christi, which is a popular beach destination.

Photo credit: Getty

4. Albuquerque, N.M.

  • Unemployment rate: 5.8%
  • Average weekly wage: $853
  • Establishments: 18,300

The Albuquerque area's unemployment rate ties for the fourth highest in our rankings. Plus, recent job growth is low and over-the-year changes in employment fell sharply toward the end of 2016, according to the BLS. And, the average weekly wage is lower here than in all of the best cities to find a dream job.

Job Prospects in Albuquerque

Albuquerque does have a variety of industries where job seekers might luck out. One of the biggest is information technology and software, which includes fields such as telecommunications service and online services.

Photo credit: Getty

3. Stockton, Calif.

  • Unemployment rate: 7.8%
  • Average weekly wage: $829
  • Establishments: 17,400

The unemployment rate in the Stockton area is the third highest in our rankings. The Economic Innovation Group ranks the city as one of the top 10 most distressed large cities in the U.S. In fact, the city went bankrupt in 2012 before exiting bankruptcy in 2015.

Job Prospects in Stockton

Like other cities in California's Central Valley, Stockton relies heavily on the agriculture industry. However, other major industries include healthcare and distribution services, according to the City of Stockton.

Despite the high unemployment rate here, there are a few industries that are expected to see job growth. The top sectors expected to see employment growth are leisure and hospitality, trade, transportation and utilities, according to the Center for Business and Policy Research at the University of the Pacific.

Photo credit: Getty

2. Bakersfield, Calif.

  • Unemployment rate: 9.2%
  • Average weekly wage: $824
  • Establishments: 18,000

With a high unemployment rate, Bakersfield is one of the worst cities live in if you want to find a dream job. Bakersfield relies heavily on the oil industry, which has been hit by the drop in oil prices, reported the Los Angeles Times in early 2016.

Job Prospects in Bakersfield

Kern County, where Bakersfield is located, is the leading producer of oil and gas in California, according to the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce. And several of the city's major employers are part of the agriculture industry. Aside from the energy and agriculture industries, other major employment sectors include healthcare, government and distribution services 

Photo credit: Getty

1. Fresno, Calif.

  • Unemployment rate: 9.3%
  • Average weekly wage: $775
  • Establishments: 33,500

Fresno's high unemployment rate and relatively low average weekly wage make it the worst city to find your dream job. In fact, the unemployment rate in the area is almost double the national rate.

Job Prospects in Fresno

Agriculture provides 20 percent of the jobs in the Fresno area, according to the Fresno County Farm Bureau. However, there are a few non-farm industries that are expected to see employment growth. For example, the construction, mining and professional services sectors are the leading sectors for growth in 2017, according to the University of the Pacific forecast.

Photo credit: Getty

Best Cities to Find Your Dream Job

These 15 places scored the highest among the 75 major cities we evaluated. All but one have an average weekly wage higher than $1,000, and most have an unemployment rate below the national average. Plus, the best cities to live in to score your dream job have a variety of industries where you can find work.

Photo credit: Getty 

15. Honolulu

  • Unemployment rate: 2.7%
  • Average weekly wage: $942
  • Establishments: 25,500

Honolulu is the only city on our list of the best cities to find a dream job with an average weekly wage below $1,000. But, it has one of the lowest unemployment rates in our rankings. And over-the-year changes in employment topped the national employment growth rate in 2016, according to the BLS. 

Job Prospects in Honolulu

Tourism has been a major growth industry in this tropical paradise, according to Enterprise Honolulu. And with military bases in the city, defense is a big part of the economy.

Because Honolulu is the capital of Hawaii, the state government is a major employer, according to the BLS. Other industries include professional services, education and health services, trade and transportation.

Photo credit: Getty

14. St. Paul, Minn.

  • Unemployment rate: 3%
  • Average weekly wage: $1,118
  • Establishments: 12,600

St. Paul has the smallest number of establishments among the best cities to score a dream job. But, the unemployment rate is low, and the average weekly wage is relatively high.

Job Prospects in St. Paul

The St. Paul area is a regional medical hub, so healthcare is a major industry in the city. Other key sectors in the city include manufacturing, professional services and scientific industries, according to the Minneapolis Saint Paul Regional Economic Development Partnership (Greater MSP). 

Photo credit: Getty

13. Aurora, Colo.

  • Unemployment rate: 2.6%
  • Average weekly wage: $1,037
  • Establishments: 31,700

This city is part of the Denver metro area and has one of the lowest unemployment rates in our rankings. Although it has fewer establishments than half of the best cities to find your dream job, it has a variety of industries.

Job Prospects in Aurora

The aerospace and defense industry is a big part of Aurora's economy. In fact, more than one-third of Colorado's aerospace jobs are in Aurora and Buckley Air Force Base, according to the Aurora Economic Development Council. Other major industries include bioscience, renewable energy, and transportation and logistics.

Photo credit: Getty

12. Austin, Texas

  • Unemployment rate: 3%
  • Average weekly wage: $1,120
  • Establishments: 38,500

Austin is one of the best cities to live in for job seekers because of its strong economy and business environment. Plus, it has one of the lowest unemployment rates in our rankings.

Job Prospects in Austin

Austin is the capital of Texas, so the state government is a major employer. However, there are a variety of other industries, including advanced manufacturing, clean energy, life sciences, data management and space technology.

Plus, Austin has a thriving creative and digital media industry that includes game and mobile app development, music and film technology, and social media and digital content.

Photo credit: Getty

11. Dallas

  • Unemployment rate: 3.5%
  • Average weekly wage: $1,184
  • Establishments: 74,500

The unemployment rate in the Dallas-Fort Worth area is well below the national rate. It also has the fourth-highest number of establishments in our rankings.

Job Prospects in Dallas

Dallas has a diverse economy with industries ranging from aviation and aerospace to healthcare and technology. In fact, it has the seventh-highest concentration of high-tech jobs in the nation, according to the Dallas Regional Chamber.

Photo credit: Getty

10. Seattle

  • Unemployment rate: 4.3%
  • Average weekly wage: $1,393
  • Establishments: 85,500

The unemployment rate is higher in the Seattle area than in several of the other best cities to find a dream job. However, it has the third-highest number of establishments among the 15 best cities to live in. And, the average weekly wage is higher than most cities.

Job Prospects in Seattle

If you're looking for jobs in the technology field, Seattle is a good place to find them. Microsoft is close by in Redmond, and Seattle is home to Amazon. It also has big maritime and manufacturing industries. Life sciences, healthcare, green business and clean technology also are major industries in Seattle.

Photo credit: Getty

9. Oakland, Calif.

  • Unemployment rate: 3.6%
  • Average weekly wage: $1,301
  • Establishments: 61,100

Oakland's unemployment rate is below the national average, and the average weekly wage is relatively high. Recent job growth in this city is also higher than the recent growth in the U.S., according to Sperling's.

Job Prospects in Oakland

This port city is a transportation hub, so there are numerous logistics companies, distribution firms and transporters. But its diverse economy offers jobs in a variety of other fields, including healthcare, food manufacturing, and arts and digital media.

Photo credit: Getty

8. Minneapolis

  • Unemployment rate: 3%
  • Average weekly wage: $1,211
  • Establishments: 39,100

A low unemployment rate, relatively high wages and a diverse economy make Minneapolis a good place to find a dream job. Key industry sectors that are growing in the city are manufacturing, finance and information technology, according to Greater MSP.

Job Prospects in Minneapolis

The Minneapolis area is home to more Fortune 500 companies per capita than any other area, and is a leader in biotechnology and biomedical research, according to Greater MSP.

Want to find a job in banking? Minneapolis also has one of the highest concentrations of banks in a metro area, according to Greater MSP. Other major industries include healthcare, manufacturing and professional services.

Photo credit: Getty

7. Denver

  • Unemployment rate: 2.6%
  • Average weekly wage: $1,175
  • Establishments: 30,600

The Denver area has one of the lowest unemployment rates among the best cities in our rankings. Recent job growth has been higher here than in the U.S. overall, according to Sperling's. And there are a variety of industries in the city where job seekers can find work.

Job Prospects in Denver

Years ago, Denver's economy was reliant upon the fossil-fuel industry, reported the New York Times. But the city now has a more diverse economy, with jobs available in industries ranging from aerospace and bioscience to financial services and broadcast and telecommunications.

And if you love beer, you might be able to find your dream job in beverage production in Denver. It ranked third in the nation for employment concentration in this industry in recent years, according to the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation.

Photo credit: Getty

6. Washington, D.C.

  • Unemployment rate: 3.7%
  • Average weekly wage: $1,623
  • Establishments: 38,100

The nation's capital has the fourth-highest average weekly wage on our list. The unemployment rate is lower than the national average, and recent job growth in Washington, D.C., has outpaced employment growth nationwide, according to Sperling's.

Job Prospects in Washington, D.C.

It's no surprise that one of the biggest employment sectors in D.C. is government. But there are several other major industries in the city offering job opportunities, such as professional services, education and health services, trade and transportation and hospitality.

Photo credit: Getty

5. Los Angeles/Long Beach

  • Unemployment rate: 4.5%
  • Average weekly wage: $1,079
  • Establishments: 467,700

Los Angeles County has more establishments than any other city on the list. The unemployment rate in the area is on par with the national average, and there is a large variety of industries that offer job opportunities.

Job Prospects in Los Angeles/Long Beach

Although it's known for Hollywood and the entertainment industry, you don't have to be a movie star to find your dream job in LA or Long Beach. Other major industries include aerospace and defense, bioscience, education, fashion, food manufacturing, hospitality, marketing and publishing.

See: How Much Money You Need to Live Comfortably in the 50 Biggest Cities 

Photo credit: Getty

4. Boston

  • Unemployment rate: 2.4%
  • Average weekly wage: $1,571
  • Establishments: 28,400

The Boston area has the lowest unemployment rate among all the cities on the list, as well as one of the highest average weekly wage rates. It has seen steady job growth since 2010 across most industries, according to the Boston Mayor's Office of Economic Development.

Job Prospects in Boston

The healthcare industry employs the largest percentage of people in Boston, according to the Boston Mayor's Office of Economic Development. But two of the fastest-growing industries in the city are high-tech and professional services. And with the numerous colleges and education institutions in Boston, employment in the education field is three times the national average.

Photo credit: Getty

3. New York

  • Unemployment rate: 4.5%
  • Average weekly wage: $1,866
  • Establishments: 130,200

New York has the second-highest average weekly wage on our list and one of the highest numbers of establishments. However, the unemployment rate here is higher than in most cities.

Aerial view on skyscrapers at sunset. Most buildings look grey without sun. But roofs of the highest ones are lightened with sun and look golden

Job Prospects in New York

Financial services — such as banking, insurance and securities — is a dominant industry in New York. However, there are numerous other sectors where you can find your dream job, including fashion and retail, health and social assistance, educational services, technology, hospitality and, of course, arts and entertainment.

Photo credit: Getty

2. San Francisco

  • Unemployment rate: 3.6%
  • Average weekly wage: $1,806
  • Establishments: 59,700

San Francisco has the third-highest average weekly wage in our rankings. However, the unemployment rate in the area is almost one percentage point lower than New York's unemployment rate.

Job Prospects in San Francisco

San Francisco is a hub for information technology jobs. It's home to more than 300 IT firms, according to the San Francisco Center for Economic Development. However, there are several other key industries in the city where you can find your dream job.

For example, there are more than 300 digital media companies in the San Francisco Bay Area, more than 1,600 life sciences companies and more than 200 clean tech companies.

Photo credit: Getty

1. San Jose, Calif.

  • Unemployment rate: 3.6%
  • Average weekly wage: $2,252
  • Establishments: 70,200

High wages, low unemployment and a variety of industries propel San Jose to the top of the list. The average weekly wage here is by far the highest, due — in large part — to the abundance of high-tech jobs. Recent job growth in San Jose is more than double the national rate, according to Sperling's.

Job Prospects in San Jose

As the biggest business district in Silicon Valley, San Jose also offers jobs in professional services, including financial and legal services, real estate, design and creative industries, according to the Office of Economic Development.

To find your dream job in San Jose — or any of the other cities on this list — make sure you take these necessary steps: Revamp your resume, research salaries in the area and prepare for the interview.

Up Next: The Best Paying Cities for the 20 Hottest Jobs 

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