Written by Patricia Caspers
It is home to Hoosiers and corn, and is a mecca for race-car enthusiasts worldwide. But if you’re a job seeker looking to make Indiana the place to hang your hat, how do you know where to begin your search? To help you out, NerdWallet considered several factors and crunched the numbers to find the best places in the state for job seekers.
We came to our conclusions by asking the following questions:
- Is the city growing? We assessed growth in the working-age population, ages 16 and older, from 2009 to 2012 to ensure that the city was attracting workers and exhibiting a trend of upward population growth.
- 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.
- Are most people employed? We looked at the most recent unemployment rate.
What makes these cities great? Let us know in the comments below.
The Best Places in Indiana for Job Seekers
Smack-dab in the center of the state, about a 30-minute drive north from Indianapolis, Carmel was named the best place to live in America by Money magazine in 2012. But what about for job seekers? Between 2009 and 2012, the city saw 16.7% growth in its working-age population. The median household income is $109,928, with the highest proportion of the population employed in education, health care and social services, followed closely by manufacturing. The city’s Meridian Corridor houses corporations such as CNO Financial Group, Delta Faucet and the headquarters of ITT Technical Institute. The 5% unemployment rate is the second-lowest in the state, and most of Carmel’s public schools are rated higher than average at GreatSchools. Job seekers will find employment assistance at Ivy Tech Community College.
There’s only one city in Indiana with an unemployment rate lower than Carmel, and that’s Fishers at 4.6%. Also located in the center of the state, east of Carmel and about the same distance from Indianapolis, Fishers showed a working-age population growth of 11% between 2009 to 2012, and the median household income was $87,968 in 2012. Fishers is home to offices for Sallie Mae, Marsh Supermarkets, Nexus Valve, IU Health Saxony Hospital and Clarke Engineering Services. The city government is focused on attracting new businesses, with several high-traffic, easy-access locations and a highly trained workforce; some 60% of the city’s population has earned a bachelor’s degree. The city is also working to attract entrepreneurs with its Launch Fishers co-working space. If you’re interested in being your own boss, you might find assistance through the Entrepreneur Advancement Center. In addition, Indiana Tech has a Fishers campus as well as a career center for students and alumni.
Located along the White River, about fifteen minutes north of Fishers and 35 minutes north of Indianapolis, Noblesville saw its working-age population soar between 2009 and 2012, up 19.5%. Several companies call the city’s 3,600-acre Corporate Campus home, including the manufacturer SMC, Helmer Scientific, Perkins Logistics and—perhaps soon—Pharmakon LTC Pharmacy. The median monthly income for 2012 was $64,420 and the unemployment rate was 5.9%, down from 8% in January. Plans are underway to create a riverwalk along the White River that would allow for the use of alternative transportation. Job seekers may want to check out Careers.org for employment assistance throughout Indiana.
Just across the Ohio River—and the state line—from Louisville, Ky., is the place that locals call “Jeff.” While the unemployment rate is slightly higher here (7.3%), the city is focused on revitalization with its Big Four Bridge Project, which spans the Ohio River and connects Jeffersonville with Louisville for pedestrians and cyclists. The city also began a half-million-dollar streetscaping project at the base of the bridge, and is offering grants to business owners who want to renovate their storefronts. In 2008, the city annexed 7,800 acres and saw 25.1% growth in the working-age population between 2009 and 2012. The median household income in 2012 was $50,289, with median monthly homeowner costs of $1,122. WorkOne Southern Indiana and Indiana Tech offer career services and have sites in Jeffersonville. Companies located in Jeffersonville include Meijer, Accent Cabinet, The Dallas Group of America, Shoe Sensation, AlliedBarton and—soon—The Rivera Group.
Forty-five minutes south of Indianapolis is the award-winning city of Columbus, the accolades of which include a No. 1 ranking in the country for economic growth. The town has also earned praise for its architecture, bike-friendliness and walkability. While its growth is slightly slower—a 9.8% increase in the working-age population between 2009 and 2012—Columbus’ unemployment rate is also lower, at 5.3%. Companies located in Columbus include Cummins and NTN Driveshafts, and the median income overall was $50,523 in 2012. The Columbus Learning Center houses classes for several local colleges and universities, in association with the Community Education Coalition.
Kokomo sits about an hour north of Indianapolis and an hour east of Lafayette. The unemployment rate (8.4%) is higher than the state average, but the city is focused on increasing employment through its Advancing Manufacturing training program, a collaboration with the Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance, Howard County, Ivy Tech, WorkOne and local employers. The working-age population grew by 22.1% between 2009 and 2012, and the median income was $33,598 in 2012, with median monthly homeowner costs of $900 for that same year. While some of Kokomo’s schools are rated lower than the national average, GreatSchools rated Northwestern High School a 9 out of 10. Local companies include Delphi, Lorentson Manufacturing, Aqua Systems, Trialon and General Motors. Job services and training are available at Bona Vista Programs.
With 20 miles of trials, two creeks and ample park land, and a population of nearly 30,000 in 2012, Plainfield is a cozy city located about 25 minutes west of Indianapolis. Growth here was slightly slower, with a 4.4% increase in the working-age population between 2009 and 2012. However, the unemployment rate (5.3%) is also lower than the state average. The median household income in Plainfield was $56,883, with median monthly homeowner costs of $1,248. Plainfield is home to the growing AirTech Park, which houses companies such as Amazon, JCPenney, Electrolux, Belkin and Ozburn-Hessey Logistics. WorkOne Central offers employment assistance and has an office in Plainfield.
Twenty minutes south of Indianapolis, Greenwood has seen its working-age population increase steadily, up 7.1% since 2009, and the overall population tipped 50,000 in 2010. With a median household income of $54,029 and median monthly homeowner costs of $1,167, Greenwood is an extremely affordable suburb. Medtech College offers health care education and career services to its graduates. Indiana Wesleyan University also has a Greenwood campus and offers several certificate programs along with traditional courses.
9. Crown Point
Crown Point is in the northwest corner of the state, about a half-hour’s drive from the tip of Lake Michigan. The population was 28,171 as of 2012, and the working-age population grew by 20.7% between 2009 and 2012. While the city’s unemployment rate (8.3%) was higher than the state’s average, the median household income was $61,300. The city is focused on expanding its railway system to reach Chicago, thereby creating more opportunities for employment. Still, Crown Point itself has plenty of options for those seeking positions in health care. St. Anthony Health, Pinnacle Hospital, Franciscan Point, Burrell Cancer Center and APAC all are located in Crown Point. Purdue University has an extension in town, and the University of Saint Francis offers professional development courses as well as career support. IndianaCareerConnect offers online, statewide job services.
This city, located an hour south of Indianapolis, may have been named for its flowers, but today it is blooming with higher education, as it is the home of Indiana University. Schools of note include Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University Maurer School of Law, the Jacobs School of Music, the Kelley School of Business, the Kinsey Institute, the Indiana University School of Optometry and the IU Health Proton Therapy Center. Bloomington’s working-age population increased by 10.1% between 2009 and 2012, while the unemployment rate held at 5.8%. With the largest share of the population employed in educational services, the median household income for 2012 was $26,925. The city’s business academy offers assistance for those planning to build their own businesses. The city also has plans for redevelopment, in the form of a 65-acre Certified Technology Park in the downtown area with access to restaurants as well as the 3-mile B-Line walking trail.
|Rank||City||Nearest Big City||Working-age Population Change (2009 – 2012)||Median household income (2012)||Median Monthly Homeowner Costs (2012)||Unemployment Rate (October 2013)||Overall Score|
|9||Crown Point||Chicago, Illinois||20.7||61,300||1,370.00||8.3||64.3|
The overall score for each city was derived from the following measures:
1. Population change from 2009 to 2012 from the U.S. Census (2009 and 2012 U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS))
2. Median household income from the U.S. Census (2012 ACS, half-weighted)
3. Monthly homeowner costs with mortgage payments from the U.S. Census (2012 ACS, half-weighted)
4. Unemployment rate from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2013)
35 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.