Top-Ranked Small Cities In America For Job Seekers

In 2019 The Milken Institute, a nonpartisan and nonprofit group, studied cities across America to find out which cities had the best-performing job market. They considered job creation, economic expansion, and wage and salary growth. The list of the best large cities for jobs isn’t all that surprising. But taking a look at the best small cities in America might spark your curiosity enough to see what jobs are out there. From the mountains in Oregon to the beaches in Florida, these small American cities have a thriving job market in 2019. Could you see yourself living and working in one of these top-ranked small cities for jobs?

Bend, Oregon Is An Alternative Option For Tech Workers

bend-oregon-small-city-job
Instagram / food.life.pod

Bend, Oregon, tops of the list of most successful small cities in America. The city ranks high in job growth and wage growth with a diverse range of industries offering employment. Bend’s major industries are tourism, healthcare and social services, scientific and technical services, wood products manufacturing, and recreation and transportation equipment.

The area has become increasingly appealing to tech workers who want to avoid the high cost of housing in the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle and enjoy the outdoors.

Small Businesses Thrive In Prescott, Arizona

prescott-arizona-small-city-jobs
Instagram / watson.and.willow

If you’re looking to start a small business, Prescott, Arizona might be a good place to consider calling home. Residents of Prescott enjoy a slower pace of living with close access to scenic parks and artsy communities. Jobs are offered in tourism, and the historical area is a favorite for retired Americans to both visit and live.

Small businesses thrive in Prescott’s vibrant downtown, where dozens of shop owners make a good living. Within the city limits are four golf courses, top-rated retirement homes and plenty of annual city events.

Fishing, Tourism, and Manufacturing in Vero Beach, Florida

vero-beach-jobs-small-city
Instagram / homelifeanddesign

Located on Florida’s eastern coast, Vero Beach is a thriving small city. Its main industry is tourism, but the city also produces a lot of citruses and is home to aviation manufacturer Piper Aircraft. The beaches in Vero are part of Florida’s Treasure Coast, with plenty of free public access trails and walkways to the beach that boosts residents’ quality of life.

With a population of 145,342, the area is home to people with both high and median incomes and a healthy job market. Find yourself a job in fishing, tourism, or manufacturing in this coastal Florida city.

The Tourism Industry Is Strong In St. George, Utah

stgeorge-utah-small-city-jobs
Instagram / loseitcycling

St. George, Utah is currently one of the fastest-growing cities in America. Close to several state and national parks, it’s a paradise for people who love the outdoors. St. George has a population of 87,178 and ranks high on the list of best places to live in the U.S. and one of the top 10 best small cities in the country for business and careers by Forbes.

SkyWest Airlines and Walmart provide lots of jobs in the city. The tourism industry is also strong in St. George, with Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and the Grand Canyon nearby.

Find Agriculture and Forestry Industries in Wenatchee, Washington

wenatchee-washington-small-city-jobs
Instagram / amalia_52412

If the Pacific Northwest is calling your name, consider applying for a job in Wenatchee, Washington. The city has a population of 33,544 with most of the jobs working in the agriculture and forestry industries. The median household income in the area is $45,000 and the housing market is hot, with the median home value at $297,800.

With the Cascade Mountain Range to the west, and the Columbia and Wenatchee rivers running through the city, the “Apple Capital of the World” is a beautiful place to live. The increase in jobs and wages make it an appealing small city to job seekers.

Poultry Is Big Business In The Small City Of Gainesville, Georgia

gainesville-georgia-small-city-jobs
Instagram / caseyelrod

Gainesville, Georgia has been called the “Poultry Capital of the World” due to its large number of poultry processing plants. Six out of ten of Gainesville’s biggest employers are in poultry farming, and job growth is strong.

Right now the housing market in Gainesville is as hot as its summers, with a median home value at a low $182,300. Zillow predicts that home values will increase, along with jobs and wage growth.

Health Care Jobs Are Available In Sioux Falls, South Dakota

sioux-falls-small-city-jobs
Instagram / trapkit

Named the 47th-fastest-growing in the United States, Sioux Falls, South Dakota is an excellent option for job seekers. With a population of 187,200, Sioux Falls offers jobs in financial services, health care, and retail.

There are four major hospitals within the city and a lively town scene at “8th and Railroad” with plenty of shops and restaurants. Wage growth is strong in this small city that used to offer jobs predominately in manufacturing and food processing.

Future Job Growth Looks Bright In Redding, California

redding-california-small-city-jobs
Instagram / shoplocalredding

Located in Northern California, Redding makes the list of one of the most successful small cities with plenty of jobs in the service industry. Healthcare, retail, and tourism are the top industries for jobs in Redding, which has a population of 89,861.

Top employers in the city include Mercy Medical Center, Shasta County, the California Transportation Department, and Shasta College. The city has a low unemployment rate of 4.4% and future job growth is expected to increase 31.4% over the next ten years, according to BestPlaces. If you’re looking to find a job in California, add Redding to your list of searches.

Beloit, Wisconsin Has A New Look After A $75 Million Investment

beloit-wisconsin
Instagram / beloit_college

Located on the southern border of Wisconsin, The city of Beloit has a population of just under 37,000 people. For a small city, it has quite a few big manufacturing companies. Industries with headquarters in the city include ABC Supply Company, Murmac Paint Manufacturing, Fairbanks-Morse Engines, Broaster Company, and Regal Beloit.

In 2012, Beloit was named #17 on Travel and Leisure’s list of America’s Greatest Mainstreets. The walkable downtown area features new luxury condos and hotels, as well as small shops and boutiques, which is attractive for residents looking to start a small business. Over the last 20 years, investment in Beloit has grown substantially, with both public and private investments totaling more than $75 million.

Cater To Retirees In The Villages, Florida

the-villages-florida-small-cities-jobs
Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The Villages, Florida has consistently been ranked as one of the fastest-growing cities in America. The city has plans to grow its current population of 128,754, purchasing 8,000 acres of land to build 4,500 homes and commercial development.

Major businesses in the area include retailers, restaurants, entertainment, and service providers. The city has also been named one of the best places to retire in the United States, twice. Economic growth is guaranteed in The Villages.

Healthcare, Mining, And Retail In Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

coeur-d-alene-idaho
Getty Images

Coeur d’Alene is a growing small city in North Idaho. Jobs are abundant in education, manufacturing, retail, and mining. Milken Institute ranked Coeur d’Alene #5 in best-performing small cities in America, with excellent ratings in job growth.

The city is surrounded by forest and lakes, and many residents of nearby cities, as well as tourists, make the trip to Coeur d’Alene for retail and entertainment. Ski resorts and one of the biggest Christmas displays in the country make this city a dreamy winter locale.

Barnstable Town, Massachusetts Looks Out For Small Businesses

barnstabe-town-ma-1067099758
John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images

Located in Cape Cod, Barnstable, Massachusetts is a historic small city comprised of several villages. In 2007, Barnstable won the All-America City Award which recognizes cities that aim to increase community engagement and resident participation in local government and business.

Historically a fishing town dating back to the 17th century, Barnstable is now a tourist destination that was also a favorite of the Kennedy family. While there are jobs available in the hospitality industry, the city is very seasonal, and business owners and workers need to be prepared for the winter lull.

Strong Wages Offered In Lahaina, Hawaii

lahaina-small-city-jobs
Instagram/lahainagateway

Want a job in paradise? Located on the island of Maui, Lahaina, Hawaii has seen strong wage growth in recent years. The city has a population of 11,704, but every year during tourist season an added 40,000 people travel to Lahaina.

Tourism is the top industry in this small American city, where both tourists and residents enjoy world-class beaches, fresh fish, and a slower pace of life. While wages are good, the housing marketing is predicted to cool off in the next few years in Lahaina.

College Grads Are Staying For Jobs In Missoula, Montana

missoula-montana-small-city-jobs
Instagram / jsieber_mt

Missoula, Montana makes the list of most successful small cities in America with a population of 74,428. The city is surrounded by five mountain ranges and is the second largest city and metropolitan area in Montana.

The University of Montana has contributed to job growth in the area and an increasing amount of graduates having been sticking around and finding jobs in Missoula after finishing college. Jobs in health care, retail shopping, transportation, financial services, and local government are available to job seekers who might consider calling Montana home.

It’s Clear That College Station, Texas Has A Lot Of Jobs in Education

college-station-texas-jobs
Instagram / molly.prigmore

College Station, Texas got its name due to being the home of Texas A&M University and being located along a major railroad. Big agencies fund research studies within the small city, including NASA, The National Institutes of Health, the National science Foundation, and the Office of Naval research. In 2006, Money magazine named College Station the 11th most educated city in the US.

The city boasts a low unemployment rate of around 3 to 4%, with the biggest employers being Texas A&M with 16,248 workers, and Bryan Independent School District with 1,952 workers. Residents of College Station enjoy top sports facilities like Kyle Field and Texas World Speedway.

Yakima, Washington Is An Agricultural Hub

yakima-washington-small-city-jobs
Instagram / yakimavalley

Yakima, Washington’s biggest industry is agriculture; producing apples, peaches, pears, cherries, and melons, along with peppers, corn, and beans. It’s also worth noting that Yakima produces most of the nation’s hops for beer production.

With a population of 91,067, Yakima consistently ranks high on the list of one of the best small cities to live in, in America. The city’s downtown is in need of some development, but that doesn’t stop residents of Yakima from living a fulfilling small city lifestyle.

Lake Charles, Louisiana Has Jobs In Education And Casino Gaming

lake-charles-louisiana-1138415103
Paul Harris/Getty Images

With a population around 75,000, Lake Charles, Louisiana is booming with business. The fifth-largest city in the state, Lake Charles is rich with jobs in petrochemical refining, education, tourism, and gaming.

The city is picturesque, bordering two different lakes, but has a very high humidity factor– the second highest in the contiguous US. The largest employer in the area is the Calcasieu Parish School System, with 5,000 workers. Second is L’Auberge Casino Resort, which is the biggest in the state and employs 2,400 people. Lake Charles also has a mall with over 80 retail stores.

Grants Pass, Oregon Has Seen Growth In Small And Medium Sized Businesses

grants-pass-oregon-small-city
Instagram / greenriverkeeper

When you enter the city of Grants Pass, Oregon, you’re welcomed with a sign stating, “It’s The Climate.” The city has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate, meaning they have sunny, dry and hot summers and a mild winter.

The city has a small population of around 23,000 people, and others come from out of town to enjoy the Rogue River which runs through Grants Pass. There’s been recent growth in small and medium businesses in the area. Jobs in the tourism industry are offered at wineries, inns, and water activities like jet boat excursions.

Historic Charm And Stunning Landscape In Auburn, Alabama

auburn-alabama
Instagram / auburnglobal

Home to Auburn University, this small city was ranked in the top ten best places to live in the United States in 2009. The university employs 4,300 workers, making up one-fourth of the city’s workforce. There are also around 8,500 people working service sector jobs in Auburn.

This city is adored for its historic charm and location along creeks, Appalachians and coastal plain. Expect mild winters, early springs, muggy summers and warm autumns in this Deep South city that’s named “The Loveliest Village On The Plains.”

Elkhart, Indiana Is Recreation Heaven

elkart-indiana-rv-capital
Instagram / experienceelkhartcountyin

Located 15 miles outside of South Bend, the small city of Elkhart, Indiana is dubbed the “RV Capital of the World” for the many RV, boat, van conversion, and marine manufacturers within Elkhart. Other industries include Pharmaceuticals, electronic components, manufactured housing, and mobile homes.

When residents aren’t working they’re out enjoying one of the 35 different parks, including pavilions, waterparks, skateparks, golf courses, greenways, and the downtown riverwalk. Elkhart is also home to several top museums including a 36-acre “living museum” with 20 themed gardens and public events.