Best Cities for Millennial Job Seekers in Florida

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Best Cities for Millennial Job Seekers in Florida

The unemployment rate in Florida is improving, but there’s one group not riding that wave: younger workers, or millennials. Residents ages 20-34 had an unemployment rate of 9.3%, which was higher than the statewide jobless rate of 7.1% in 2013, according to annual averages from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

For millennials just starting out, a tough job market is an extra burden as they confront post-college costs, including average student loan debt that now stands at $29,400.

NerdWallet’s analysis

But there’s some good news for young people seeking jobs in 2015. Florida has started off the year with signs pointing toward a healthy job market. This past November, there was an 8% increase in online job openings compared with the previous year, according to seasonally adjusted data from The Conference Board.

Here’s a look at the factors we used in our analysis:

  1. Are there jobs in the area? We looked at the unemployment rate in 2013 and the average worker payroll salary in 2012, using the most recent U.S. Census Bureau figures. We determined the average worker’s salary with the census bureau’s payroll by ZIP code. Lower unemployment rates and higher payroll salaries scored positively.
  2. Can you afford to rent near work? Using census data, we measured a city’s median rent, including utilities, to determine if an area has reasonable rent costs. Lower costs resulted in a positive score for a city.
  3. Do other millennials live there? We determined that millennials are workers ages 18-33, which is the definition used in a March 2014 Pew Research Center report. We used two of the census bureau’s brackets, ages 20-24 and 25-34, to create a millennial group for our analysis. From this, we found the percentage of millennials in a city’s 2013 population and the growth of millennial residents from 2010 to 2013. High percentages received positive scores.

Key takeaways

Our analysis revealed some trends:

Big cities ranked high. Average payroll figures brought major cities such as Miami and Jacksonville to the top of our list. Perhaps not coincidentally, millennials tend to gravitate toward urban areas, according to Nielsen’s 2014 report. Seven of the top 10 cities have populations over 100,000. Along with their established commercial centers, these cities and surrounding metro areas boast several Fortune 500 companies.

Affordable rent matters. Although rent factored in as only 20% of the score, the top seven cities have median rents at or less than the state’s median of $946 a month. Finding places to rent, instead of buy, also aligns with millennial behavior as the real estate website Trulia discovered: the rate of homeownership by Americans ages 18-34 dropped to a new low of 13.2% in 2014.

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In this analysis, NerdWallet crunched the data for 93 places in Florida — cities, towns and census-designated places. Only places with over 20,000 residents were analyzed.

To see the full data set, click here.

Best cities for millennial job seekers in Florida

1. St. Petersburg

This city at the edge of Tampa Bay is home to a thriving economy with the average payroll salary of $47,471, which is $13,500 more than the average across the 93 cities analyzed. The headquarters of Raymond James Financial and EverBank are here, along with Jabil Circuit, a Fortune 500 company. The median rent is $924 a month in a city bustling with restaurants and entertainment along the Grand Central District. The millennial population here has increased 6% since 2010.

2. Palm Bay

With the second-highest average payroll in our top 10, Palm Bay is in the middle of an expansion called Emerald City, a $101.8 million project that will create an urban center along Interstate 95. A new interchange north of Micco Road recently opened on the interstate, according to a news report. The city also features several large businesses, including the Harris Corp., an international information technology company.

3. Tampa

Thanks in part to the University of South Florida, Tampa has a strong millennial presence that grew 7% from 2010 to 2013, and now is 24% of the population. The average salary here is $47,306, which is 28% higher than the average of the 93 cities analyzed. Companies such as KForce and World Fuel Services, a Fortune 500 company, are based in Tampa.

4. Jacksonville

As the largest city in Florida, Jacksonville is home to over 190,000 millennials. The high average payroll salary can be attributed to opportunities to work at corporate banks, health care companies and Fortune 500 companies, such as Fidelity National Financial and CSX Corp. Median rent is affordable at $927, which is the second lowest on our list and lower than the average of $1,017 across the cities analyzed.

5. Miami

With a relatively high average salary of $46,036 and median rent at $946, Miami balances affordable housing with a strong local economy. The southeastern commercial hub is headquarters to World Fuel Services, Ryder System Inc. and many other businesses in the growing downtown scene.

6. Gainesville

Gainesville is home to the University of Florida and about 50,000 students — which accounts for the reason why the city has the largest millennial population of the 93 cities analyzed. Young workers who live here will also find a lower monthly rent at $854 and an unemployment rate of 4.6%. Gainesville also has opportunities in health care at UFHealth and the Malcolm Randall VA Medical Center.

7. Winter Park

Although home to a population of just under 28,500, Winter Park makes up for its size with an average salary of $40,146, and the highest increase of millennials since 2010 in our top 10. Park Avenue serves as the focal point of the cosmopolitan downtown area, where upscale restaurants meet scenic parks and Rollins College, Florida’s oldest recognized college.

8. Boca Raton

As the corporate headquarters for Office Depot and the ADT Corp., Boca Raton sports the highest average salary on our list at $51,252. Although rent tends to be higher here, a median of $1,300, this coastal city offers a thriving business environment with over 150 companies and cultural events at the Town Center.

9. Fort Lauderdale

This city north of Miami has branched out from tourism and now boasts a strong business center that is headquarters of Microsoft Latin America and AutoNation, the largest U.S. automotive retailer. Although rent costs more here than the average of the cities analyzed, the Fort Lauderdale’s cultural pulse is prominent, especially along the scenic Riverwalk, the location of the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, various museums and fine dining.

10. Palm Beach Gardens

With a 4.3% unemployment rate, the lowest of our top 10 cities, Palm Beach Gardens — on the state’s eastern coast — maintains a relatively high average salary of $49,322. The city’s business environment features retail, commercial and other enterprises, including the national headquarters of the PGA. Median rent is on the high end here, but the low unemployment rate of 4.3%, plus the growing local economy, makes this city ripe for work opportunities.

Check out this interactive map of our top 10 cities for millennial job seekers in Florida. Click on each marker to see the city’s overall score.

Top 20 best cities for millennial job seekers in Florida

City Unemployment rate
in 2013
Average worker payroll
in 2012
Millennial population
in  2013
Percentage of millennials
in 2013
Millennial growth
2010-2013
Median rent in 2013 Overall score
1 St. Petersburg 7.4% $47,471 48,415 19.63% 6.05% $924 68.83
2 Palm Bay 8.0% $49,835 17,891 17.27% 2.61% $931 68.78
3 Tampa 8.1% $47,306 83,675 24.34% 7.11% $940 68.46
4 Jacksonville 7.8% $47,027 190,605 22.97% 3.46% $927 67.78
5 Miami 8.1% $46,035 94,190 23.11% 6.86% $946 66.48
6 Gainesville 5.4% $35,231 55,484 44.09% 3.31% $854 66.18
7 Winter Park 4.6% $40,146 5,567 19.54% 21.15% $1,072 66.04
8 Boca Raton 6.0% $51,252 14,174 16.35% 8.48% $1,399 64.95
9 Fort Lauderdale 8.1% $46,887 34,737 20.60% 6.65% $1,057 64.25
10 Palm Beach Gardens 4.3% $49,322 7,281 14.78% -1.38% $1,355 64.24
11 Deerfield Beach 6.8% $45,889 15,277 20.01% 2.89% $1,130 62.93
12 Clearwater 5.7% $41,474 19,279 17.76% -1.01% $931 62.89
13 Pembroke Pines 6.9% $49,814 29,565 18.79% 8.73% $1,403 62.20
14 Navarre 5.4% $42,688 6,698 20.49% 8.68% $1,218 61.48
15 Melbourne 7.9% $39,530 15,358 20.01% 7.26% $833 61.17
16 West Palm Beach 7.1% $41,974 22,923 22.75% 3.80% $1,038 60.87
17 Tallahassee 8.5% $37,879 70,309 38.29% 5.36% $915 60.81
18 Miami Beach 4.0% $38,204 21,903 24.50% -4.22% $1,088 59.98
19 Daytona Beach 7.0% $35,385 14,886 24.16% 1.43% $760 59.53
20 Immokalee 8.9% $31,458 5,118 22.50% 24.59% $619 59.51

 

Methodology

The overall score for each place was derived from the following sources:

    1. Millennials as a percentage of the population is 10% of the overall score. The population figures — ages 20-24 and ages 25-34 — are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey, data set DP05.
    2. The millennial population growth from 2010 to 2013 makes up 10% of the overall score. The figures are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 ACS, data set DP05.
    3. The unemployment rate by city is from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 ACS, data set DP03. It is 20% of the overall score.
    4. Average worker payroll is 40% of the overall score. The figures are calculated based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s ZIP Code Business Statistics, data set CB1200CZ11. Figures from multiple ZIP codes within a city were combined and averaged.
    5. Median gross rent is 20% of the score. The figures are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 ACS, data set DP04.

NerdWallet analyzed 93 places — cities, towns and census-designated places — for this study. Only places with over 20,000 residents were included. We excluded age-restricted communities and 86 places that didn’t have payroll figures.

Best cities for millennial job seekers in Florida (full data)

City

Unemployment rate
in 2013

Average worker payroll
in 2012
Millennial population
in 2013
Percentage of millennials
in 2013
Millennial growth
2010-2013
Median rent
in 2013
Overall score
1 St. Petersburg 7.4% $47,471 48,415 19.63% 6.05% $924 68.83
2 Palm Bay 8.0% $49,835 17,891 17.27% 2.61% $931 68.78
3 Tampa 8.1% $47,306 83,675 24.34% 7.11% $940 68.46
4 Jacksonville 7.8% $47,027 190,605 22.97% 3.46% $927 67.78
5 Miami 8.1% $46,035 94,190 23.11% 6.86% $946 66.48
6 Gainesville 5.4% $35,231 55,484 44.09% 3.31% $854 66.18
7 Winter Park 4.6% $40,146 5,567 19.54% 21.15% $1,072 66.04
8 Boca Raton 6.0% $51,252 14,174 16.35% 8.48% $1,399 64.95
9 Fort Lauderdale 8.1% $46,887 34,737 20.60% 6.65% $1,057 64.25
10 Palm Beach Gardens 4.3% $49,322 7,281 14.78% -1.38% $1,355 64.24
11 Deerfield Beach 6.8% $45,889 15,277 20.01% 2.89% $1,130 62.93
12 Clearwater 5.7% $41,474 19,279 17.76% -1.01% $931 62.89
13 Pembroke Pines 6.9% $49,814 29,565 18.79% 8.73% $1,403 62.20
14 Navarre 5.4% $42,688 6,698 20.49% 8.68% $1,218 61.48
15 Melbourne 7.9% $39,530 15,358 20.01% 7.26% $833 61.17
16 West Palm Beach 7.1% $41,974 22,923 22.75% 3.80% $1,038 60.87
17 Tallahassee 8.5% $37,879 70,309 38.29% 5.36% $915 60.81
18 Miami Beach 4.0% $38,204 21,903 24.50% -4.22% $1,088 59.98
19 Daytona Beach 7.0% $35,385 14,886 24.16% 1.43% $760 59.53
20 Immokalee 8.9% $31,458 5,118 22.50% 24.59% $619 59.51
21 Pensacola 6.5% $35,127 10,641 20.36% 8.64% $826 59.39
22 Rockledge 6.7% $36,083 4,466 17.72% 21.99% $972 59.27
23 Orlando 8.4% $40,180 72,463 29.59% 1.82% $983 58.93
24 Crestview 5.7% $30,680 6,316 29.16% 30.31% $1,029 58.79
25 Ormond Beach 4.0% $31,547 5,234 13.65% 20.10% $964 57.89
26 Lakeland 7.5% $37,082 19,398 19.60% 1.27% $870 56.79
27 Largo 7.3% $36,625 13,936 17.89% 6.36% $901 56.69
28 Dunedin 4.9% $34,803 5,243 14.80% 0.83% $928 56.47
29 Jupiter 4.5% $44,842 8,086 14.38% -8.54% $1,379 56.39
30 Ocala 8.1% $33,886 12,267 21.59% 11.90% $813 56.28
31 Sarasota 7.8% $37,475 9,632 18.32% 1.99% $921 55.35
32 Lutz 6.1% $34,530 2,955 14.74% -0.03% $876 54.79
33 Fort Myers 9.2% $39,358 13,446 20.85% -10.63% $821 54.76
34 Altamonte Springs 7.3% $36,390 9,964 23.84% -4.96% $959 54.08
35 Brandon 4.8% $31,864 25,457 24.24% 5.26% $1,056 54.04
36 Venice 4.0% $33,764 1,511 7.23% -1.95% $957 53.66
37 Apopka 6.6% $36,018 7,949 18.43% -2.36% $989 53.47
38 Panama City 7.8% $34,787 7,292 20.14% -2.51% $848 53.33
39 Hollywood 8.8% $39,673 26,619 18.58% -1.30% $1,014 53.17
40 Jacksonville Beach 4.1% $33,646 4,613 21.39% -1.85% $1,139 53.14
41 Titusville 7.0% $32,949 7,638 17.40% 0.25% $828 53.11
42 Bradenton 7.8% $34,692 9,873 19.62% 2.59% $907 52.96
43 Plant City 7.3% $32,624 7,797 22.03% 1.31% $870 52.73
44 Riverview 6.3% $35,118 14,626 19.83% 18.20% $1,236 52.73
45 Bonita Springs 4.8% $29,209 7,314 16.17% 20.81% $1,059 52.40
46 Winter Haven 6.9% $32,768 5,443 15.75% -6.48% $775 52.24
47 Pompano Beach 8.5% $36,780 19,873 19.53% 8.84% $1,064 51.95
48 Pinellas Park 6.2% $31,145 9,181 18.57% 6.64% $969 51.25
49 Fort Pierce 10.0% $34,363 8,678 20.47% 3.97% $807 51.14
50 Palm Harbor 5.2% $32,604 7,569 12.80% 5.14% $1,070 50.68
51 Leesburg 8.9% $33,765 3,972 19.26% 0.10% $848 50.41
52 Haines City 5.3% $26,680 4,178 20.04% -2.38% $786 50.22
53 North Fort Myers 5.5% $26,919 3,018 7.68% 3.78% $720 49.68
54 Tarpon Springs 7.4% $32,623 3,024 12.83% -0.36% $872 49.60
55 Oviedo 6.2% $32,735 6,811 19.69% 19.07% $1,280 49.37
56 Winter Garden 6.6% $30,223 7,159 20.03% 3.14% $955 49.31
57 Holiday 8.2% $31,460 3,813 18.51% 5.48% $893 49.17
58 Merritt Island 6.2% $28,915 4,481 12.90% 4.50% $857 49.15
59 Hialeah 7.9% $33,316 41,211 18.00% 2.94% $989 49.00
60 Homestead 8.7% $33,193 15,725 25.48% 4.72% $1,030 48.86
61 DeLand 6.5% $31,740 4,558 16.64% -6.96% $918 48.77
62 Delray Beach 8.4% $37,288 11,771 19.02% 8.29% $1,238 48.58
63 Sanford 9.4% $32,905 12,137 22.41% -3.84% $926 46.65
64 Port Charlotte 7.3% $31,401 7,219 13.08% -2.22% $950 46.28
65 Ocoee 8.0% $32,993 7,448 20.08% 8.79% $1,178 46.17
66 Palm City 6.0% $32,434 2,225 9.48% 9.39% $1,209 45.95
67 Lehigh Acres 10.9% $27,701 21,992 21.53% 27.32% $893 45.63
68 Edgewater 7.1% $28,524 3,443 16.55% -0.43% $914 45.53
69 New Smyrna Beach 3.4% $27,246 2,749 12.07% -12.20% $996 45.37
70 Kissimmee 8.3% $28,721 14,407 23.28% 2.16% $940 45.30
71 Port Orange 4.7% $26,691 8,393 14.83% -8.09% $958 44.79
72 Palm Coast 6.0% $29,033 10,476 13.70% 2.11% $1,075 44.46
73 Key West 4.0% $31,772 5,339 21.41% -0.67% $1,516 43.06
74 Valrico 4.8% $25,212 6,031 16.73% 21.15% $1,287 42.96
75 Winter Springs 8.1% $30,060 6,478 19.37% 3.43% $1,131 42.21
76 Cape Coral 9.0% $31,703 24,265 15.32% -0.23% $1,058 42.03
77 North Miami Beach 10.8% $29,118 9,746 23.01% 12.41% $1,008 41.78
78 St. Cloud 9.0% $26,344 7,464 19.69% 21.76% $1,081 41.73
79 North Port 7.6% $26,092 8,384 14.57% 6.21% $963 41.71
80 Boynton Beach 9.2% $33,166 13,360 19.29% 3.01% $1,215 41.66
81 Estero 3.7% $23,613 2,340 10.17% 18.24% $1,302 40.45
82 Casselberry 7.7% $26,579 6,085 23.07% -11.39% $956 40.40
83 Fleming Island 4.6% $27,911 3,776 13.14% -0.97% $1,297 40.04
84 Lake Worth 13.8% $32,876 8,918 25.19% 0.20% $937 39.62
85 Clermont 6.4% $28,042 3,349 11.53% -8.45% $1,090 39.15
86 Port St. Lucie 9.7% $30,639 28,094 16.86% 8.61% $1,186 39.10
87 Sebastian 7.3% $28,551 2,099 9.47% -11.10% $988 39.10
88 Spring Hill 9.3% $26,104 14,732 14.76% 3.32% $919 38.81
89 Wesley Chapel 5.5% $24,783 9,203 20.46% 7.44% $1,312 38.35
90 Greenacres 8.5% $25,654 8,474 22.34% 4.57% $1,120 37.70
91 Deltona 7.2% $23,080 15,908 18.62% -1.95% $1,099 35.17
92 Plantation 5.8% $16,384 17,289 19.87% -2.78% $1,367 24.35
93 Margate 8.6% $16,429 9,952 18.33% -1.19% $1,169 23.39

 

St. Petersburg, Florida, image via iStock.