Cities With the Most Content (and Miserable) Workers

Print Email

The Best Cities for Work

10. Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol, Tenn.-Va.
> Work environment index score: 54.7
> Pct. feel treated with respect: 90.9% (49th lowest)
> Pct. learned something new that day: 54.5% (2nd lowest)
> Pct. with college degree: 19.2% (75th lowest)
> Median household income: $37,769 (21st lowest)

Unlike some of the cities where workers are most satisfied, Kingsport area residents had low educational attainment rates, with slightly more than 19.2% of adults 25 and older having graduated college, considerably lower than the national rate. A typical household in the area also made just $37,769 in 2012, considerably lower than most other metro areas. Despite the low education levels and incomes, area workers had among the most pleasant work environments. Employees in the Kingsport metro area had among the best supervisors in the nation last year. Nearly 65% of survey-respondents felt their supervisors treated them like a partner, and 84.6% felt their supervisors created a trusting work environment, more than all but a handful of other areas reviewed.

9. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.
> Work environment index score: 54.8
> Pct. feel treated with respect: 93.5% (11th highest)
> Pct. learned something new that day: 68.4% (32nd highest)
> Pct. with college degree: 46.4% (10th highest)
> Median household income: $90,737 (the highest)

A typical household in the San Jose metro area earned more than $90,000 in 2012, more than in any other metro area in the nation. High incomes are likely the result of the strong presence of traditionally high-paying sectors. For instance, the professional, scientific, and management sector accounted for 18.4% of the area jobs, much higher than the sector’s proportion of less than 11% of workers nationwide. Large companies such as Google and Apple are based in the area and provide lucrative job opportunities to area residents. Like a number of high-paying tech companies, both companies were listed on Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work this year. Additionally, residents of the San Jose metro area, along with those of Washington, D.C., had the highest economic confidence in the nation, according to a recent Gallup survey.

ALSO READ: States With the Highest (and Lowest) Taxes

8. Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, Wash.
> Work environment index score: 55.0
> Pct. feel treated with respect: 93.9% (7th highest)
> Pct. learned something new that day: 66.6% (49th highest)
> Pct. with college degree: 24.8% (173rd lowest)
> Median household income: $57,189 (54th highest)

Nearly nine in 10 respondents from the Kennewick region said they used their strengths at work last year, more than in all but four other metro areas. Supervisors in the region were also well-regarded, with 66.7% of respondents reporting their supervisor treated them like a partner last year, second-highest among all areas reviewed. Residents earned more than most Americans, with a median household income of $57,189 in 2012, compared to $51,371 nationwide. While the relationship to workplace satisfaction is unclear, a relatively large percentage — 8.4% of the workforce — was employed in the agricultural industry, more than four times the rate across the nation.

7. Roanoke, Va.
> Work environment index score: 55.1
> Pct. feel treated with respect: 91.2% (67th lowest)
> Pct. learned something new that day: 64.1% (91st lowest)
> Pct. with college degree: 25.5% (182nd highest)
> Median household income: $46,974 (181st highest)

Unlike other metro areas with highly rated workplaces, supervisors in Roanoke were not as likely to create a trusting work environment. Less than 80% of respondents thought their supervisor did so in 2013, in-line with the average across all metro areas. However, this did not prevent residents from liking their jobs, with 90.5% of survey respondents reporting job satisfaction, among the best job evaluations among all metro areas surveyed. The job climate in Roanoke is also relatively good, with just a 5.4% unemployment rate in December last year, below the national rate of 6.7% that month.

ALSO READ: Ten Cities Where Young People Can’t Find Work

6. Visalia-Porterville, Calif.
> Work environment index score: 55.3
> Pct. feel treated with respect: 93.9% (7th highest)
> Pct. learned something new that day: 65.4% (65th highest)
> Pct. with college degree: 14.7% (12th lowest)
> Median household income: $40,302 (50th lowest)

The unemployment rate in the Visalia metro area was an abysmal 13.1% last December, considerably higher than the national rate of 6.7% that month. Meanwhile educational attainment rates were well below the national rate, with fewer than 15% of residents over 25 holding a college degree. Despite all this, survey respondents felt much better about their workplace than most metro areas surveyed. Respondents rated supervisors, in particular, very well, with 65.6% of residents saying their superiors treated them like a partner. Like several other regions with positively-reviewed work environments, the agriculture sector made up a large proportion of employment in the Visalia area, accounting for nearly 19% of the workforce, compared with just 2.0% nationwide.