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The Best Places in Minnesota for Job Seekers

Nov. 11, 2013
Home Search, Mortgages
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The Land of 10,000 Lakes is an up-and-coming location for job seekers. Minnesota has the 10th-lowest unemployment rate in the nation. Its unemployment rate, at only 5.1 percent, is much lower than the national average of 7.3 percent. NerdWallet crunched the numbers to find the best places for job seekers in Minnesota.

We found the best places for job seekers in the state by asking the following questions:

  1. Is the city growing? We assessed growth in the working-age population, ages 16 and older, from 2009 to 2011 to ensure that the city was attracting workers and exhibiting a trend of upward population growth.
  2. Can you afford to live in the city comfortably? We measured a city’s median household income to see if workers made a good living. We also analyzed the monthly homeowner costs, including mortgage payments, to see if the city had a reasonable cost of living.
  3. Are most people employed? We looked at the unemployment rate.

The Best Places in Minnesota for Job Seekers

1.    Woodbury

Woodbury is located in Washington County in the Twin Cities metropolitan region. Situated east of St. Paul, Woodbury is Minnesota’s 10th-largest city by population. Woodbury saw a 10.1 percent growth in the working-age population between 2009 and 2011, and its households earned a median income of $92,780. The city’s top employers include Woodwinds Health Campus, Ecowater Systems and Woodbury Senior Living. Woodbury is home to a Rasmussen College campus. Rasmussen focuses on providing its students with experienced career-services advisors and instructors that have professional experience in their fields.

2.    Moorhead

Moorhead is situated in Clay County, east of Fargo, North Dakota. The city is located on the banks of the Red River Valley in northwest Minnesota. The city saw a working-age population growth of 4.7 percent between 2009 and 2011, and its unemployment rate was the lowest in the state, at 3.1 percent. Moorhead’s top employers include Concordia College, Eventide Lutheran Home and American Crystal Sugar Company. Moorhead is home to many institutes of higher education, such as Concordia College and Minnesota State Community and Technical College. Concordia College provides online job-search resources and helps students gain experience though internships and volunteer opportunities. Additionally, Minnesota State Community and Technical College provides Career & Placement Services to help students and alumni find job opportunities and employment resources.

3.    Shakopee

 Shakopee is located in the Twin Cities metropolitan region, southwest of Minneapolis. Shakopee is the seat of Scott County and situated on the banks of the Minnesota River. Shakopee is home to Valleyfair Amusement Park and the Shakopee Historic District, which contains prehistoric burial mounds. Between 2009 and 2011, the city saw a 9.1 percent growth in the working-age population, and households earned a median income of $78,028. Major employers in town include Seagate Technology, St. Francis Regional Medical Center and Canterbury Park. Shakopee is home to the Scott County (Shakopee) WorkForce Center, which provides workshops, job-search assistance and resume- and cover letter-writing aid.


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4.    Rochester 

Located in Olmsted County, Rochester is the third-most populous city in Minnesota, after Minneapolis and St. Paul. The city is located on the Zumbro River in southeastern Minnesota. Rochester saw a 4.9 percent growth in the working-age population between 2009 and 2011, and the city’s unemployment rate was a low 4.1 percent. The Mayo Clinic is the largest employer in town, with over 35,000 employees. Other top employers include IBM, Olmsted Medical Center and Crenlo. The University of Minnesota Rochester provides professional development resources for all students through career-exploration services, job-search strategies and interviewing tips. Rochester is also home to a branch of SoMN SourceLink, which helps entrepreneurs and small businesses in southern Minnesota grow and expand by providing business-related services in areas such as loans, marketing and sales.

5.    Mankato

Mankato is located in southern Minnesota, on the banks of the Blue Earth River and the Minnesota River. From 2009 to 2011, the city saw a 7.8 percent growth in the working-age population. Principal employers in Mankato include Mayo Clinic Health System, Moore Research Center and Minnesota State University, Mankato. Minnesota State University, Mankato is home to a Career Development Center, which provides career assessment and planning services, resume reviews and career-development workshops. South Central College, which has a Center for Business & Industry, is located in nearby North Mankato. The center helps businesses, non-profits and government organizations improve their performance through training, counseling with experience consultants and year-round business courses.

6.    Lakeville

Lakeville is located 30 minutes south of Minneapolis in Dakota County. The city’s households earned a median income of $95,646 while the unemployment rate was just 4.4 percent. Lakeville’s top employers are Ryt-Way Industries, ConAgra Foods and Imperial Plastics. Lakeville is home to a branch of the Minnesota School of Business, which provides day, night and online classes in business and accounting, technology, health science and legal science. The school provides a career center for students and alumni to help them with their job search. Students can find job postings from local employers through the online portal.

7.    Cottage Grove

Cottage Grove is located southwest of St. Paul, and the city is home to 45 miles of trails, 30 city parks and two golf courses. Cottage Grove saw a 4.4 percent working-age population growth from 2009 to 2011, and residents earned a median household income of $82,469. The city’s major employers include 3M, Renewal by Andersen and Up North Plastics. Cottage Grove is home to a Business Enterprise Center, which provides workspace and programs for entrepreneurs. Small businesses can also find training programs and networking opportunities there.

8.    Richfield

Richfield is located just south of Minneapolis and west of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Richfield saw a 5.3 percent working-age population growth between 2009 and 2011, and the unemployment rate in the city was just 4.5 percent. Top employers in town include U.S. Bank, Metro Sales and Best Buy, which is headquartered in Richfield. Minnesota Life College is located in Richfield and is specially catered to educating students with disabilities. It provides a Work Readiness program to provide its students with the skills necessary to find, obtain and keep jobs through topics like applying to jobs, interviewing skills and developing professional references.

9.    Owatonna

Owatonna is located in Steele County in southeastern Minnesota. Owatonna is known for its shopping, tourism and healthcare industries. The city grew 4.3 percent in its working-age population between 2009 and 2011, and its unemployment rate stayed low at 4.7 percent. Top employers in Owatonna include Viracon, Federated Insurance and Owatonna Hospital. Riverland Community College is located in Owatonna, and it offers a Training and Development program that helps local businesses through developing customized programs, consultations and other program development.

10. Andover

Andover is located approximately 20 miles north of the Twin Cities metropolitan area, in Anoka County. Andover’s households earned a median income of $89,803, and the city’s unemployment rate was 4.5 percent. Major employers in the city include Fairview Clinics, Kottkes’ Bus Service and Bunker Hills Regional Park. Andover’s Economic Development Department focuses on stimulating the city’s economic growth and promoting its commercial and industrial districts.

Rank City Nearest Big City Working-age Population Change (2009 to 2011) Median Household Income (2011) Monthly Homeowner Costs (2011) Unemployment Rate (2013) Overall Score
1 Woodbury St. Paul 10.1% $92,780 $1,935 4.1% 77.0
2 Moorhead Fargo, ND 4.7% $46,794 $1,294 3.1% 73.9
3 Shakopee Minneapolis 9.1% $78,028 $1,789 4.5% 68.0
4 Rochester 4.9% $63,428 $1,407 4.1% 65.4
5 Mankato 7.8% $40,560 $1,257 4.6% 61.5
6 Lakeville Minneapolis 4.1% $95,646 $1,942 4.4% 61.5
7 Cottage Grove St. Paul 4.4% $82,469 $1,737 4.6% 58.9
8 Richfield Minneapolis 5.3% $52,131 $1,583 4.5% 55.9
9 Owatonna 4.3% $55,764 $1,364 4.7% 55.5
10 Andover Minneapolis 1.9% $89,803 $1,839 4.5% 55.4
11 Eagan Minneapolis, St. Paul 1.2% $80,243 $1,811 4.2% 55.1
12 Edina Minneapolis 4.7% $80,652 $2,369 4.2% 54.6
13 Shoreview Minneapolis -0.5% $82,908 $1,781 4.1% 54.1
14 Blaine Minneapolis 1.1% $71,954 $1,664 4.4% 52.4
15 Roseville Minneapolis, St. Paul 1.8% $56,941 $1,645 4.3% 51.2


The overall score for each city was derived from the following measures:

  1. Population change from 2009 to 2011 from the U.S. Census (2009 and 2011 U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS))
  2. Median household income from the U.S. Census (2011 ACS, half-weighted)
  3. Monthly homeowner costs with mortgage payments from the U.S. Census (2011 ACS, half-weighted)
  4. Unemployment rate from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2013)

38 communities designated as places by the U.S. Census were included in this analysis. Only places with a population greater than 25,000 were considered.

Photo Credit: Stone Arch Bridge by Doug Stone

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