5. Raleigh-Cary, NC
> Unemployment rate: 8.4%
> Change in unemployment from pre-recession low: +4.8%
> Median household income: $60,110
Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Durham make up what is commonly referred to as the “research triangle” or, simply, “the triangle.” The region is home to three major universities: UNC Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University and Duke. Raleigh’s biggest employers are either institutes of education, hospitals, or biotech research centers.
4. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT
> Unemployment rate: 8.5%
> Change in unemployment from pre-recession low: +4.5%
> Median household income: $81,114
The Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk metropolitan area is home to a number of large corporations, due in large part to the area’s proximity to Manhattan. The metropolitan area is known primarily as a financial hub. It is home to Bridgewater Associates, which is the world’s largest hedge fund, Aladdin Capital, and SAC Capital Advisors. Many of the area’s largest employers are also in the field of health care services.
3. Provo-Orem, UT
> Unemployment rate: 8.0%
> Change in unemployment from pre-recession low: +5.5%
> Median household income: $56,510
The Provo-Orem Metropolitan Statistical Area is home to Brigham Young University. The 30,000-student institution serves as the intellectual engine for the region, and many of those students end up at the large software and tech companies in the area. Symantec (NASDAQ: SYMC), Corel and Novell are headquartered here, as are several biotech companies. In general, the region has a very diverse economy, with jobs available across most major industries.
2. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA
> Unemployment rate: 6.0%
> Change in unemployment from pre-recession low: +3%
> Median household income: $56,519
Washington D.C. has both resilient industries and an extremely low education gap. The metropolitan area is helped immensely by being the country’s capital. As of 2008, about one-third of the jobs in Washington D.C. were with the federal government, according to the Department of Employment Services. The metro area is also home to many educational institutions, such as Georgetown University and George Washington University.
1. Madison, WI
> Unemployment rate: 5.5%
> Change in unemployment from pre-recession low: +1.7%
> Median household income: $58,775
Madison’s unemployment rate of 5.5% is the 20th lowest across all U.S. metropolitan statistical areas. The city is the home of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which is the one of the largest employers in the region, second only to the state government. The university’s hospital is one of the biggest training hospitals in the country, and there are several other major hospitals in the region. Madison is also home to a variety of other businesses, including several insurance firms and a group of biotech companies. Nearly half of the city’s population holds a bachelor’s degree.
Charles B. Stockdale, Michael B. Sauter