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Best Places in Virginia for Job Seekers

Oct. 6, 2013
Home Search, Mortgages
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Virginia is a top state for job seekers – its unemployment rate of 5.8 percent is far lower than the national average of 7.3 percent. As many young professionals seek jobs, NerdWallet crunched the numbers to find the best places for job seekers in Virginia.

  1. Is the city growing? We assessed population growth of those 16 and older to ensure that the city is attracting workers.
  2. Do people earn high salaries? We included median household income in the calculation.
  3. Are most people employed? We looked at the unemployment rate.

Best Places in Virginia for Job Seekers

1. Leesburg

Leesburg is the county seat of Loudon County, located 45 miles west of Washington D.C. near Washington Dulles International Airport. Leesburg is a fast-growing city, with a population growth of 10.9 percent between 2009 and 2011. Leesburg residents are well-off, with a median household income of $99,040 and an unemployment rate of just 4.0 percent. The three top employers in Leesburg are the Loudoun County Government, Loudoun County Public Schools and the Federal Aviation Administration.

2. Vienna 

Vienna is a town in Fairfax County in northeastern Virginia, 17 miles west of Washington D.C. Vienna boasts a high median household income of $116,933 as well as a low unemployment rate of 6.0 percent. Additionally, many people are flocking to Vienna, which had a 6.0 percent population growth between 2009 and 2011. Vienna’s major employers include the Navy Federal Credit Union, Fairfax County Public Schools and Contemporary Electrical Services. Vienna government helps boost small businesses with an annual Vienna Business Saturday, where residents can support their local Vienna businesses.

3. Herndon

Located in Fairfax County in northern Virginia, Herndon is near the Dulles Technology Corridor, which contains many defense and technology companies. Herndon has seen 6.9 percent population growth between 2009 and 2011, and residents earn a median household income of $97,813. Herndon’s top employers include technology companies such as Exelis Inc. as well as financial businesses such as Score Association and Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.


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4. Arlington

Arlington is located on the Potomac River, across Washington D.C. While primarily known as the home of the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington is a great city for job seekers due to its low unemployment, at only 3.8 percent, and its high median household income of $99,651.  There are plenty of jobs in the federal and local government, and Arlington also has many private-sector jobs at top employers such as Deloitte, Accenture and Lockheed Martin. Students and alumni at the local Marymount University gain experience in the local community through experiential learning programs.

5. Manassas

Manassas is an independent city located in northern Virginia, bordering Prince William County, 31 miles southwest of Washington D.C. Manassas has seen plenty of new residents – the town’s population has grown 10.1 percent from 2009 to 2011. Additionally, Manassas has a low unemployment rate of 6.1 percent. The City Council is boosting Manassas’s economy with a citywide Technology Zone, with incentives available for new or expanding businesses. Principle employers in the city include Micron Technology, Prince William Health System and Lockheed Martin.

6. Culpeper

Culpeper is the county seat of Culpeper County in northern Virginia, near Shenandoah National Park. Culpeper has a long history, stretching back before the Revolutionary War, and the town has one of the largest historic districts in Virginia. Culpeper has seen tremendous growth between 2009 and 2011, with a 15.6 percent population growth. Culpeper also boasts a low unemployment rate of 6.6 percent. Large employers in Culpeper include Culpeper County Schools, Culpeper Regional Hospital and County of Culpeper Government.

7. Fredericksburg

Fredericksburg is located near the Rappahannock River in central Virginia, 58 miles north of Richmond. Fredericksburg’s history stretches to before the Revolutionary War – the city was the site of two major Civil War battles. Fredericksburg has seen an influx of new residents over the past couple years, with 15.1 percent population growth between 2009 and 2011. Top employers in Fredericksburg include Mary Washington Healthcare, the University of Mary Washington and the City Government. The University of Mary Washington focuses on developing the region’s economy with a Small Business Development Center to help local businesses grow and prosper and an UMW Entrepreneurs Club to encourage students to start and grow businesses.

8. Alexandria

Alexandria is a northern Virginian city, located six miles south of Washington D.C. The city’s residents earn a median household income of $82,899, and the city boasts a low unemployment rate of just 4.6 percent. Alexandria is home to many jobs, both in the public sector – many with the U.S. Department of Commerce and Defense – as well as private sector jobs with the Alexandria Hospital and the Institute for Defense Analysis. The city government provides help for job seekers through their JobLink program.

9. Chesapeake

Chesapeake is located in southeastern Virginia, and it has seen a population growth of 2.6 percent from 2009 to 2011, and residents earn a median household income of $70,115. Additionally, Chesapeake has a low unemployment rate of 6.0 percent. Top employers in Chesapeake include the Chesapeake Public Schools, the city government, Chesapeake Regional Medical Center and Cox Communications. The city helps promote a strong workforce through programs such as the Virginia Jobs Investment program.

10. Christiansburg

Christiansburg is part of the Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford metropolitan area in Montgomery County in western Virginia. Christiansburg has seen a population growth of 8.5 percent from 2009 to 2011. Principle employers in Christiansburg include the Montgomery County School Board, Echostar Corporation and the city government. Montgomery County provides monthly opportunities to help local businesses and leaders, and the Economic Development Department provides programs and grants to help businesses grow and expand.


Rank City Nearest Big City Population Change (2009 to 2011) Median Household Income (2011) Unemployment Rate (2013) Overall Score
1 Leesburg Washington D.C. 10.9% $99,040 4.0% 84.6
2 Vienna Washington D.C. 6.0% $116,933 6.0% 78.3
3 Herndon Washington D.C. 6.9% $97,813 6.0% 72.9
4 Arlington Washington D.C. 1.6% $99,651 3.8% 71.8
5 Manassas Washington D.C. 10.1% $73,091 6.1% 68.6
6 Culpeper 15.6% $53,967 6.6% 68.5
7 Fredericksburg 15.1% $44,498 8.3% 60.0
8 Alexandria Washington D.C. -2.5% $82,899 4.6% 57.8
9 Chesapeake 2.6% $70,115 6.0% 57.0
10 Christiansburg 8.5% $50,195 7.2% 55.4



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 ACS)
  2. Median household income from the U.S. Census (2011 ACS)
  3. Unemployment rate from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2013)

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