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The Best Cities for Getting a Great Job This Year May Surprise You

Image: McDowell Sonoran Preserve

Sunset at McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona, on April 4, 2010. Elizabeth Belts-Kauffman

Looking for a job? Cities such as Scottsdale, Arizona; Plano, Texas; and Sioux Falls, South Dakota might suddenly seem a little more alluring.

Scottsdale is the best city to live in for employment opportunities, according to a new report from WalletHub, followed by Plano. Orlando, Florida came in at number three, followed by Sioux Falls and San Francisco.

At first glance, these cities couldn't seem more different from one another. How is it that they are each so promising for for job seekers? Jill Gonzalez, an analyst for WalletHub, noted that several factors come into play, and are limited to not just job openings, but also include variety of industries, cost of living, and even crime rates.

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Looking at the Big Picture

Now in its third year of publishing the Best and Worst Cities For Jobs report, WalletHub pulls data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development, Indeed.com, and other organizations to shape the list.

"We want to give a holistic sense of a city by considering socioeconomic factors that [help determine] what people look for in the job market," said Gonzalez, adding that socioeconomics vary greatly from city to city.

"Just look at San Francisco [number 5] and Oakland [number 123]. It's almost more expensive to live in Oakland [even though it's right next to San Francisco], so housing affordability plays a huge role," said Gonzalez. "While San Francisco has a very high cost of living, it balances out when you compare that with its crime rate, job opportunities, wage growth, and employment growth."

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A more drastic example of a city that underperformed in socioeconomic factors is Miami, Florida, which ranked number 3 in the job market category, but scored 126 in the socioeconomic environment field. Both rankings were considered, and so it slumped down to number 12 on the list.

Detroit, Fresno, and Bakersfield Bottom Out

But no cities — and the job seekers therein — have it quite so bad as Bakersfield, Fresno, and Detroit, which dwell at the bottom numbers of the list, ranking a total of 148, 149, and 150, respectively.

The cities that are struggling the most tend to lack in "variety of job opportunities," said Gonzalez. And, to an extent, these cities may be stuck in the past.

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"Detroit is really trying to improve, but by putting efforts into more factory jobs, it's not expanding industries and so I don't know how much improvement we will see there," said Gonzalez.

Catching Up by Branching Out

Once a city has hit the bottom of the list, it is almost impossible to climb up. However, Toledo, Ohio, is one place that has disproved that theory: In 2015, Toledo was ranked a dismal 134 out of 150. This year, it came in at number 107.

"Heavy on industry, right along the Rust Belt, Toledo started to invest in solar energy and look at it differently than it had in the past and now it's on the up," said Gonzalez. "It's still looking at energy, just in a different way, so that it branches young entrepreneurs with experienced veterans in the field who are learning new things."

Another city that is doing well because, in a sense, it is going against its job traditions, is Pittsburgh, which came in at number 36.

"Pittsburgh is known as Steel City, but it caught on early that the steel industry was on the decline," said Gonzalez. "So it looked to new industries, and now it's a huge robotics hub, and also huge in healthcare technology. Because of these new industries, there is job creation and it's a blossoming city."

What Will Happen Under Trump?

The question of how the job market and its accompanying socioeconomic environments will fare under Trump's presidency looms large.

"All of the next four years depend upon what types of policies are enacted by the incoming administration," said David Fiorenza, economics instructor at Villanova School of Business. "If there are unfunded mandates imposed, then the states and local jurisdictions will feel the impact and have to bear the burden of those unfunded mandates. If there is less regulation and other potentially pro-business factors, then the states and local jurisdictions could thrive over the next four years."

Trump has promised to bring jobs back to America and to crack down on companies that relocate jobs to other countries. He's also promised to bring back jobs that have largely died out, a concept that seems to go directly against what's been working for cities like Toledo and Pittsburgh, which are prospering because they're moving on and opening new doors of opportunity.

"If we hold on to these jobs and prioritize them, than could be limiting," said Gonzalez. "Job creation is still job creation — just not necessarily the same job, as Toledo has proven. I wouldn't want to see a city reverting and undoing its progress because of an idea that 'that's the way it should be done.'"